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ontarget
Aug. 5, 2009, 10:22 PM
So after being introduced to the concepts of classical dressage from an excellent trainer in Southern CA, I am curious who else practices similar methods in the US. I know of many classical riders in Europe, where it could be argued that classical dressage originated, but I know of very few in the US.

Trying to broaden my horizons here and learn about classical riding in the US, so any comments or pointing toward the right direction are appreciated.

slc2
Aug. 5, 2009, 10:49 PM
What do you mean when you say 'classical', and what do you mean when you say they train classical, but badly? How do you know someone is failing at being classical?

magickmeadow
Aug. 5, 2009, 11:26 PM
I, too, would like your definition of classical. Are you interested in the Iberian Principles? Viennese? Etc? Or someone who trains sans popular gimmicks?

Personally, I like Dr. Ritter. IMO he is neither a low level rider or trainer. He isn't in So CA but OR is not that far for you to consider travelling.

I follow the Iberian Principles but not strictly as I like to bring other ideas into my training as no one horse is like another. The name does not limit the tools to Baroque horses only. I ride a 17.2 H OTTB. So perhaps if you give us a few clues as to a more specific training concept you wish to follow, we can offer you some choices.

ThreeFigs
Aug. 5, 2009, 11:32 PM
Oh, gack!

I'm all out of popcorn.

ontarget
Aug. 5, 2009, 11:39 PM
By classical, I mean using finesse rather than force with focus on lightness. Classical as in adhering to the original techinques documented by Xenophon. Some examples of the riders/trainers who keep to the principles I have in my mind would be Phillipe Karl, Sylvia Loch, and Ernst Bachinger. Yes, Iberian Principles, except not limited to baroque horses.

I wouldn't necessarily use the words "bad" of "failing" when referring to those who use classical dressage concepts, but, in my opinion, do not adhere to it fully. Just that they say they teach classical dressage, but still have horses heavy and on the forehand, strong bits in mouth, and a focus on competition above balance and composition of the horse. This is not to say all are like this, just the couple I have encountered so far, so I am looking to see if there are others out there, and what they teach.

EDIT: By the by, I realize my first post may have come off as a bit... haughty? Definitely did not mean it that way. I cannot pretend to know much about the classical principles other than what little I have learned and researched. I am looking to learn more, and hoping to find people in my area to collaborate with. :)

J-Lu
Aug. 5, 2009, 11:52 PM
Sooooo, where are you?

Heavy and on the forehand with strong bits is not any kind of dressage. It's simply bad training and riding.

magickmeadow
Aug. 5, 2009, 11:54 PM
Beasmom, a popcorn shipment is on the way.

Besides Dr Ritter you might consider a clinic with Dr Gerd Heuschmann.

ontarget
Aug. 6, 2009, 12:07 AM
J-Lu--my thoughts exactly, which is why I was shocked when alleged "classical riding" instructors were using these techniques. Granted, they were not big names and I had to search them out, but still. Classical dressage is classical dressage. Speaking of strong bits, Rollkur is also something I find quite disturbing.

I would love to attend a clinic with both Dr. Gerd Heuschmann and Dr. Ritter. I was very interested by Tug of War, and definitely think there is a lot of truth to it. My trainer has been singing it's praises ever since it came out.

I give fair warning... please forgive me if I ever sound stupid. I am of a hunter/jumper background and am trying to learn more and use classical dressage principles in my riding. Would really like to see more classical dressage principles used in the hunter/jumper rings.

I am in the mid atlantic region. Will be in south central PA in the next month, but have been in VA for the past year after moving from Southern CA.

slc2
Aug. 6, 2009, 02:54 AM
I am extremely disbelieving of the assertion that one can only take classical dressage lessons from one of three people in the United States.

"focus on competition"

"heavy on the forehand"

"harsh bits"

"too forceful"

These, I think are your definition of 'not classical'. So classical would be mild bits, light on the forehand, less forceful, and less interested in competition, more interested in 'balance and form'.

Not sure what 'form' means but have an idea of 'balance'. 'Balance' has many meanings to many people - for some it means 'in a frame' (headset, which others condemn as hand riding), for others, it means going with the head and neck up...for others, it means the hind legs are swinging forward...for others, it means 'not in hyperflexion'.

'harsh bits' - people vary in what they think is harsh. So don't know what's meant by that. Some are categorically against double bridles as being too harsh, though the double is traditional for fully trained horses....again, what's harsh is an individual opinion.

'forceful' - again...people vary even more in what they feel is too forceful. So hard to comment on. To me, a certain amount of obedience is needed from the horse or it won't be through, supple, balanced, collected, and a rider has to do something if the horse is running off, bucking, etc. Often today, 'forceful' means 'hyperflexion', many seem to feel the horse would only be in that position because of an extreme amount of physical force being applied constantly. By that logic, anyone who uses hyperflexion is overly forceful.

'heavy on the forehand'...often again, linked to hyperflexion, many feel if hyperflexion is in use, the horse can never perform any correct work, and must be heavy on the forehand whether in that position or not.

Or...the observer may simply be looking at less experienced riders who have learned to create some activity, but not yet moved to the next phase of their riding - these usually are relatively on the forehand...but sometimes it's something some people see everywhere....one wouldn't expect a lower level horse to be completely not 'on the forehand'...how much on the forehand is acceptable for a given phase of training (or moment of a ride, or during a given exercise) is not so simple.

I don't think of a yawning divide between 'classical' and 'competitive', with 'competitive' equal to forceful, harsh bits, in a hurry, anky-spanky, despises poor miserable horsey who is treated like sports equipment, and classical equal to takes time, perfection, respects horse, etc. To be honest, I'm usually scared to death of people who say they're 'classicists' and usually run screaming in the other direction the second i hear the word 'classical'...with 'philosopy' almost as alarming. Why? Because usually the word classical and a whole lot of very bad riding seem to find themselves in very close proximity.

For an extremely ironic touch, the word 'classical' was previously used by competitive riders, to indicate a more traditional or personally favored way of performing a specific exercise in a competition. For example, a serpentine with more pronounced straight sections, is 'less classical', a serpentine with one stride of 'straight', or even more classically, going from one bend to the other without stopping at the 'straight' point, just one fluid motion, is 'more classical'.

Your favs are Ernst Bachinger, Phillippe Karl, Sylvia Loch.

I am not sure I am on the same page with 2/3 of it. I don't care for how Sylvia Loch rides or how her students ride (I see horses on forehand, lacking suppleness, struggling with basics and a rap that goes along with it that seems to be completely disconnected from what's actually happening with the horse and rider), or Phillipe Karl (tense, fast tempos, lacking of collection, on forehand, problems with backward tendency in piaffe, but extremely popular with the riding public today for criticizing hyperflexion of dressage horses).

Ernst Bachinger was 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1996 Austrian champion, his main horse, Honeymoon, was trained by Thomas Zindl and he got the horse in 1987 and competed extensively for many years, so not only an SRS rider but also an extremely astute competitor.

So you might admire him for not sacrificing form and balance while competing, especially if 'form and balance' actually means 'not doing hyperflexion', he appears to have stopped competing before that became widespread, and within his SRS background, there are different ways of suppling the horse. Bachinger is director since end of 2006, first 'director' in a long time to also have been a Rider, he was a rider at the school for 20 yrs(1959-1978). So he was out competing from 1978-1996, at least 20 years, and took the admin position 10 yrs later.

I'm sure there were many more, but he worked with Kay Meredith for four years, he worked with Princess Anne, during the mid 80's Bill Warren(former working student of Karl Mikolka, winning at regionals), Kathy Connelly trained with him (all according to their bios).

I don't see why not work with any of the many students of Ernst Bachinger, for starters. None of the people I mention are worthy? But they were trained by one who is....boy I don't know.

So he appears to be a highly successful competitive rider other competitive riders greatly admire and sought out for years. With an SRS background and the competitive experience, a pretty unbeatable combination. But also, worlds different from either of your other two choices, in fact, I can't understand how you could admire all 3 blanketly, they are so completely different.

Even so, I can't agree that there are only a few people in America who know what they're doing or who are worthy of taking lessons with. There are a large number of people who don't teach or ride with hyperflexion, if that's really what you're talking about, but they all have some way of suppling the horse - and you may turn out to not like those other ways very much either.

Eclectic Horseman
Aug. 6, 2009, 09:27 AM
When somebody says classical, I immediately think of a tricorn hat, curb bit, huge spurs, reins held in one hand, and a whip held upside down. I'm thinking that's not what you want for your showjumpers. Just a guess. :winkgrin: Unless it is the airs above ground?? :confused:

Three others who I can think of in the USA who have not been named are: Paul Belasik in PA, Karl Mikolka and Vitor Silva in MA.

If you are going to be in PA, then you may want to check out Belasik (as long as you are not overweight!)

http://www.paulbelasik.com/

Tonja
Aug. 6, 2009, 10:44 AM
Classical dressage is restoring the horse’s ability to display its optimal balance and freedom of movement under a rider in the most harmonious way possible.

My interest in dressage has always been in classical horsemanship – probably because my first book on dressage was Horsemanship, by Waldemar Seunig. Over the years, I searched high and low for a venue where the rich and noble heritage of classical dressage had been preserved. I explored a number of programs and audited and rode in countless clinics. I had come across a great number of authors who described the classical art beautifully yet, when it came down to it, they weren’t putting what they had written about into practice. I had about given up on my search when I rediscovered the book, Dressage Formula, by Erik Herbermann. The book sounded really good so I thought I’d at least give this guy a shot before hanging it up. I was pleased to find that Erik could practice what he preaches to every last detail! He has a vast understanding of horses’ movement and behavior, the classical masters and the art (its physics, history, nuances, etc, etc, etc). If you are serious about learning the classical riding art, Erik Herbermann is a phenomenal wealth of information.

ontarget
Aug. 6, 2009, 11:33 AM
I am extremely disbelieving of the assertion that one can only take classical dressage lessons from one of three people in the United States.

"focus on competition"

"heavy on the forehand"

"harsh bits"

"too forceful"

These, I think are your definition of 'not classical'. So classical would be mild bits, light on the forehand, less forceful, and less interested in competition, more interested in 'balance and form'.

Not sure what 'form' means but have an idea of 'balance'. 'Balance' has many meanings to many people - for some it means 'in a frame' (headset, which others condemn as hand riding), for others, it means going with the head and neck up...for others, it means the hind legs are swinging forward...for others, it means 'not in hyperflexion'.

'harsh bits' - people vary in what they think is harsh. So don't know what's meant by that. Some are categorically against double bridles as being too harsh, though the double is traditional for fully trained horses....again, what's harsh is an individual opinion.

'forceful' - again...people vary even more in what they feel is too forceful. So hard to comment on. To me, a certain amount of obedience is needed from the horse or it won't be through, supple, balanced, collected, and a rider has to do something if the horse is running off, bucking, etc. Often today, 'forceful' means 'hyperflexion', many seem to feel the horse would only be in that position because of an extreme amount of physical force being applied constantly. By that logic, anyone who uses hyperflexion is overly forceful.

'heavy on the forehand'...often again, linked to hyperflexion, many feel if hyperflexion is in use, the horse can never perform any correct work, and must be heavy on the forehand whether in that position or not.

First of all, I edited my first post because I believe it may have ruffled a few feathers, and that was not intended. As I corrected later, I am more interested in learning rather than assuming that I "know it all" and there are no classical instructors/riders in the US.

It would be impossible to go into my specific thoughts concerning what classical really is without writing a book. Those words, which you ripped apart, were only meant to represent a general concept counter to what I believe classical to be, which, in simplest terms, I believe is harmony with the horse. This could also be accompanied by such phrases as "moving from the hind end" and "lightness." That is so gross and simple to describe something so vast and complicated, maybe it is simply impossible to convey the concept.

When I said "harsh bits," I was referring to the principle that every horse should be able to go in a plain snaffle. I do not dispute the double bridle, but I feel it is something that should be used only when the horse has attained a high level of balance, moving correctly from the hind end so that it can take the bit rather than be held back by it. The double bridle should not be used to force the head and neck into hyperflexion or force the horse to go behind the vertical and thus interfere with the natural balance and musculature of the animal.

When speaking of force, obviously it is necessary to correct a disobedient horse (although usually I have found they have a reason for being disobedient unless they are spooking/have too much energy/sugar in their system), but pulling the horse to oblivion/fighting with the horse or using so much leg that the horse's sides lose their sensitivity are unecessary and "forceful." I do not disagree with whips or spurs when used correctly (ie, spurs never digging into the horses sides, but rather used as morse code) as I think they can increase finesse and the vision of effortlessness of the movement.

As far as heavy on the forehand, I absolutely believe that horses cannot perform correct work in hyperflexion and that it is counterproductive to the horse's welfare. This has been proved by Dr. Gerd Heuschmann in Tug of War.




Or...the observer may simply be looking at less experienced riders who have learned to create some activity, but not yet moved to the next phase of their riding - these usually are relatively on the forehand...but sometimes it's something some people see everywhere....one wouldn't expect a lower level horse to be completely not 'on the forehand'...how much on the forehand is acceptable for a given phase of training (or moment of a ride, or during a given exercise) is not so simple.

Of course there are moments when horses are on the forehand... no rider is flawless. There are those horses who are downhill who are built to travel on the forehand. But I believe it should be the goal of the rider to get the horse off the forehand and moving from behind. If the horse is moving correctly from behind, then it will not be on the forehand. I have gotten on completely green horses and had them really use their hind end, and they have not been on the forehand, so I might not expect a lower level horse to be on the forehand as I think the horse should be asked to move correctly from square one. No, it is not simple, but the concept of desiring to never go on the forehand and the committment to working toward that goal should be fairly simple, which I believe is something practiced by many competent classical riders.


I don't think of a yawning divide between 'classical' and 'competitive', with 'competitive' equal to forceful, harsh bits, in a hurry, anky-spanky, despises poor miserable horsey who is treated like sports equipment, and classical equal to takes time, perfection, respects horse, etc. To be honest, I'm usually scared to death of people who say they're 'classicists' and usually run screaming in the other direction the second i hear the word 'classical'...with 'philosopy' almost as alarming. Why? Because usually the word classical and a whole lot of very bad riding seem to find themselves in very close proximity.

For an extremely ironic touch, the word 'classical' was previously used by competitive riders, to indicate a more traditional or personally favored way of performing a specific exercise in a competition. For example, a serpentine with more pronounced straight sections, is 'less classical', a serpentine with one stride of 'straight', or even more classically, going from one bend to the other without stopping at the 'straight' point, just one fluid motion, is 'more classical'.

I never said that competitive dressage was equal to the things you list, so you are coming up with that one on your own. The only thing I have been discussing so far is classical, with one mention of rollkur and how I find it disturbing. When you say you find "classical" and "bad riding" in close proximity--this is what I was referring to in my first post because I feel that some of the people I have come across who call themselves classical are not really maintaining the values and riding/teaching of a classical rider, and therefore are not classical. However, that does not mean all classical riders are bad (I'm sure the records prove that Ernst was not a bad rider...), just that some maybe don't get it or aren't quite there yet in their education.



Your favs are Ernst Bachinger, Phillippe Karl, Sylvia Loch.

I am not sure I am on the same page with 2/3 of it. I don't care for how Sylvia Loch rides or how her students ride (I see horses on forehand, lacking suppleness, struggling with basics and a rap that goes along with it that seems to be completely disconnected from what's actually happening with the horse and rider), or Phillipe Karl (tense, fast tempos, lacking of collection, on forehand, problems with backward tendency in piaffe, but extremely popular with the riding public today for criticizing hyperflexion of dressage horses).

Ernst Bachinger was 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1996 Austrian champion, his main horse, Honeymoon, was trained by Thomas Zindl and he got the horse in 1987 and competed extensively for many years, so not only an SRS rider but also an extremely astute competitor.

So you might admire him for not sacrificing form and balance while competing, especially if 'form and balance' actually means 'not doing hyperflexion', he appears to have stopped competing before that became widespread, and within his SRS background, there are different ways of suppling the horse. Bachinger is director since end of 2006, first 'director' in a long time to also have been a Rider, he was a rider at the school for 20 yrs(1959-1978). So he was out competing from 1978-1996, at least 20 years, and took the admin position 10 yrs later.

I'm sure there were many more, but he worked with Kay Meredith for four years, he worked with Princess Anne, during the mid 80's Bill Warren(former working student of Karl Mikolka, winning at regionals), Kathy Connelly trained with him (all according to their bios).

I don't see why not work with any of the many students of Ernst Bachinger, for starters. None of the people I mention are worthy? But they were trained by one who is....boy I don't know.

So he appears to be a highly successful competitive rider other competitive riders greatly admire and sought out for years. With an SRS background and the competitive experience, a pretty unbeatable combination. But also, worlds different from either of your other two choices, in fact, I can't understand how you could admire all 3 blanketly, they are so completely different.

I never said that those three were my "favs," merely used them to give everyone an idea of the classical I was referring to. To be completely honest, those are just the names that popped up in my head at the time. No rider is perfect, and yes, they are all completely different. Honestly, I'm not sure I even know enough about Sylvia Loch to vouch for her (have only been reading up on her and am reading something by her now which is why she popped into my head). I do say I have to disagree with you about Phillippe Karl, and would ask you to show me an example of when he has horses on the forehand, or an example of a piaffe that is not executed from the hind end. Maybe my knowledge simply does not extend that far.

I never said the people you mention weren't "worthy." My own trainer trained with Ernst. Here comes where I lack knowledge, because I did not know who has trained with him in the US, so thank you for educating me. I cannot even begin to pass judgement on those people until I have seen them ride/teach, so no, I definitely would not call them unworthy, just unknown to me until now.




Even so, I can't agree that there are only a few people in America who know what they're doing or who are worthy of taking lessons with. There are a large number of people who don't teach or ride with hyperflexion, if that's really what you're talking about, but they all have some way of suppling the horse - and you may turn out to not like those other ways very much either.

So, you think that "classical" and "bad riding" seem to run in close proximity, yet there are clearly some decent riders who use classical principles, and they are in America? Hmm. There may be a large number of people who don't ride or teach hyperflexion, but hyperflexion has seemed to become a sort of phenomenon, and when I look around my "hunter/jumper world" and see everyone going around in draw reins and nasty bits, and watch many of the top dressage competitors with horses heads behind the vertical and not travelling from the hind end, with the bottom reins of their double bridles cranked to the full, it makes me wonder. A very inflammatory subject, I know, so let me pour a little water on the flames and say that this is not to say all do this, this is not a criticism of people or their riding, it is merely pointing out that some definitely do it, and it could be argued that even a majority do it (I can definitely say this for the h/j world), and what will be the results in the long run?

ontarget
Aug. 6, 2009, 11:39 AM
When somebody says classical, I immediately think of a tricorn hat, curb bit, huge spurs, reins held in one hand, and a whip held upside down. I'm thinking that's not what you want for your showjumpers. Just a guess. :winkgrin: Unless it is the airs above ground?? :confused:

Three others who I can think of in the USA who have not been named are: Paul Belasik in PA, Karl Mikolka and Vitor Silva in MA.

If you are going to be in PA, then you may want to check out Belasik (as long as you are not overweight!)

http://www.paulbelasik.com/

Haha... no, that's definitely not what I had in mind, although maybe I should go in one of my jumper clsses with a tricorn hat. What do you think? Might start a new trend. :lol: My idea of classical is what Tonja was referring to. I believe it shouldn't matter if I'm riding h/j or dressage... the same concepts can apply. Although it would be pretty awesome if my horse could perform a Levade right before jumping a 5' fence. :winkgrin:

I will definitely check out Paul Belasik! He is very close to me, so thank you for that name. :)

Eclectic Horseman
Aug. 6, 2009, 11:46 AM
Haha... no, that's definitely not what I had in mind, although maybe I should go in one of my jumper clsses with a tricorn hat. What do you think? Might start a new trend. :lol: My idea of classical is what Tonja was referring to. I believe it shouldn't matter if I'm riding h/j or dressage... the same concepts can apply. Although it would be pretty awesome if my horse could perform a Levade right before jumping a 5' fence. :winkgrin:

I will definitely check out Paul Belasik! He is very close to me, so thank you for that name. :)

You're welcome. Good luck!

ThreeFigs
Aug. 6, 2009, 12:13 PM
I have rehabbed horses (my own and students) using "classical" principles. I do not see a disconnect between "classical" and competitive dressage. So I get irked when I see these topics come up in the BB.

But that's just me. Surely there are competitive dressage riders who eschew classical principles. We have plenty of those around here. Some of them even do well at shows, BUT their horses suffer in the long run.

My Hannoverian, rehabbed through careful riding and various therapeutic exercises (some from the ground in the early days of rehab) is doing fine now, 18 months after I purchased him, and schooling 2nd and a bit of 3rd level stuff. There has never been any cranking or spanking, he goes in a French link loosering bit.

We are classical AND competitive. And God willing, he will progress and stay happy and sound for many years to come.

When looking for an instructor, watch the lessons, observe at the shows, ask questions. It's EASY for a trainer to pay lip service to "classicism", but ride and teach in a very different way. Compare and contrast many instructors. Some will be more "classical" than others. Certainly there are unique cases where a trainer may have to deviate from "classical" dogma, but in general, the best interests of the horse should prevail.

Dressage_Julie
Aug. 6, 2009, 12:52 PM
I think the disconnect stems from the fact that all you have to do is make business cards and call yourself a trainer of classical dressage. I know many people in my region that have never ridden above first level and yet are trainers with multiple clients and horses in training *cringe*. Personally this blows my mind, but I think this is part of the reason why there is trick dressage (horses pulled in, and taugh to do tricks even though they are not through and over their backs) and classical dressage.

Quest52
Aug. 6, 2009, 01:49 PM
http://doversworld.com/blog/2009/03/classical-time-to-get-real/

ThreeFigs
Aug. 6, 2009, 01:58 PM
Good link, Quest52.

"Adjustability" has been drummed into my head by my regular coach and every clinician I work with.

Eclectic Horseman
Aug. 6, 2009, 02:29 PM
Thanks for posting that link to Robert Dover's discussion of "Classical," Quest52. I think that he is right on. :yes:

Karoline
Aug. 6, 2009, 02:45 PM
And it is competitive.

Now as to wether it is upheld or not, that's up to you to decide:


"Article 401 OBJECT AND GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF DRESSAGE

The object of dressage is the development of the horse into a happy athlete through harmonious education. As a result, it makes the horse calm, supple, loose and flexible, but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding with the rider.

These qualities are revealed by:
• The freedom and regularity of the paces.
• The harmony, lightness and ease of the movements.
• The lightness of the forehand and the engagement of the
hindquarters, originating from a lively impulsion.
• The acceptance of the bit, with submissiveness/throughness
(Durchlässigkeit) without any tension or resistance.

2. The horse thus gives the impression of doing, of its own accord, what is
required. Confident and attentive, submitting generously to the control of the athlete, remaining absolutely straight in any movement on a straight line and bending accordingly when moving on curved lines.

3. The walk is regular, free and unconstrained. The trot is free, supple, regular and active. The canter is united, light and balanced. The hindquarters are never inactive or sluggish. The horse responds to the slightest indication of the athlete and thereby gives life and spirit to all the rest of its body.

4. By virtue of a lively impulsion and the suppleness of the joints, free from the paralysing effects of resistance, the horse obeys willingly and without hesitation and responds to the various aids calmly and with precision, displaying a natural and harmonious balance both physically and mentally.

5. In all the work, even at the halt, the horse must be “on the bit”. A horse is said to be “on the bit” when the neck is more or less raised and arched according to the stage of training and the extension or collection of the pace, accepting the bridle with a light and consistent soft submissive contact. The head should remain in a steady position, as a rule slightly in front of the vertical, with a supple poll as the highest point of the neck, and no resistance should be offered to the athlete.

6. Cadence is shown in trot and canter and is the result of the proper harmony that a horse shows when it moves with well-marked regularity, impulsion and balance. Cadence must be maintained in all the different trot or canter exercises and in all the variations of these paces.

7. The regularity of the paces is fundamental to dressage."

Though I much prefer the older definition:


"1. The object of Dressage is the harmonious development of the physique and ability of the horse. As a result it makes the horse calm, supple, loose and flexible, but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding with his rider. "

Dressage Art
Aug. 6, 2009, 02:50 PM
There are many variations of classical and competitive trainers/riders, but if we'll take extremes of both, they have a completely opposite set of standards/needs/goals/definition-of-happiness/definition-of-bad-good, with almost NO chance of coming to an agreement on much about dressage. (just look at the replies on Kassandra thread: http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum/showthread.php?t=148215)

Classical riding is in the thinking:

For the very classical rider/trainer there is no “carrot” dangling at the end of the journey and THAT is the true reason why they enjoy the journey NOT the end result. They do not have to speed up the training to get to the end. Most classical riders do not use harsh training methods, they CAN take more time instead. Classical trainers do not pass on not so talented horses and are able to see the best in every horse, b/c they have nothing to prove to people. There are here for horses.

Very competitive trainers/riders are quite opposite, naturally egged on by the competitive nature to prove that they are the best of the best, the cream of the crop:

Changing horses often to progress up the dressage levels.
Horse is sold as soon it's difficult to ride, or not delivering the wanted results.
Riding only the cream of the crop horses while belittling others.
Pushing horses to the brink of their abilities to show what she can do.
Scratching their rides if horse is not going as well as they want them to go, riding only when the horse is at its best.
Happiness measured in the amount of year end awards
What horse can bring them is measured up in the amount of blue peace of fabric.
Partnership is measured how well the horse can submit to the rider in the show ring.
If anything can save time to get to the final goal = it is OK to use it and it is worth it (RK, gag bits, crank & spank, etc.)
You can hear them yelling, blaming their horses from a mile away.
Horse is looked at as disposable equipment.
There is no such thing as "no horse is left behind" or programs for horses with special needs. Only the most talented, most submissive kept.

I think it can be very helpful to know what kind of rider you are so you can better match yourself with the trainer that you will click with. No matter how nice, knowledgeable the classical trainer can be, she/he will not be a correct fit for the competitive student = and vice versa.

ontarget
Aug. 6, 2009, 03:00 PM
Very intriguing article, although after reading some of the comments, it seems a little appalling to me that with only having seen parts of Dr Gerd Heuschmann's If Horses Could Speak and without reading Tug of War, he calls his work an "exploitive piece of trash." Really now? Is he a doctor and can he verify this without even having really investigated the work? To think that hyperflexion is not counterproductive to the horses health is, in my opinion, rather brash unless the research has been done to prove otherwise. I, myself, am sorry to say that I have ruined several top level jumper horses due to hyperflexion with draw reins and elevator bits, pretty much ending their careers before I got some sense.

And also, about his definition of "classical":


I believe that a classically trained horse is totally adjustable to the will of the rider in his rhythm ( how fast or slow), his length of stride ( how long or short), and his frame ( how high or low and how long or short). And this adjustability must in no way create pain or bewilderment to the horse.

So, tail swishing and gaping mouth represents a horse who is perfectly happy and could easily be adjusted without the use of the double bridle? Once again, NOT saying all are like this, just that I have noticed this occuring at a high level of competition. That I have seen this at all, let alone at the highest ranks, is surely a negative thing, no? I am not saying that they are "abused." I am not saying that this practice is the devil and should be illegal. I'm just wondering if that is the best way. Otherwise, I do agree with his definition. Just doubt the extent that it is actually practiced.

I do think that he is right when he points out that the horses in If Horses Could Speak who are used to show how it is done correctly (particularly the chestnut) have conformation that was made to move from the hind end and move in perfect balance. But I also think it is possible to achieve balance with poorly conformed horses, and that they don't have to travel on the forehand. Some just may be more adept at it or suited for it than others, which is why not all horses are GP horses.

Article 401 was very enlightening to read. :) Coming from my background, I had not read it before. If that is the standard, then it leaves me wondering how some (notice I did not say all) top competitors whose horses' polls are definitely NOT at the highest point, whose noses are definitely NOT slightly in front of the vertical, whose tails are swishing and ears back and mouths gaping are winning. Hmm.

precisionchaos
Aug. 6, 2009, 03:14 PM
Coaches who teach classical dressage, IMHO, are coaching the student to achieve what Tonja said so eloquently; basically, instructing riders to preserve or improve the gaits with the weight and other biomechanical challenges of having a rider. It is 'correct' riding that is healthy for the horse longterm.

Now, that can be and is 'accomplished' in a variety of ways, but the similarities that strike me are the use of the gymnastic figures and suppling exercises in rather graduated and systematic way, that create relaxation, push, flexibility and carriage and biddability. (While in Germany, this was NOT the case in barn after barn of typical competition or training facilities, where horses were asked to work very hard forward, even if whip required to buzz them up to it, and relaxation is NOT a word I can use to describe much of what was going on that I saw.

I got my start under Herbermann and Vi Hopkins, so of course to me, that compassion for and understanding the nature of the horse and well versed in training theory is of utmost importance.

I pursued then, to school at Neindorff's, and while there, trained mostly with Melissa Simms and a little with Herr Neindorff.

In US, train with SRS coach, Gigi Nutter when she comes this far north <g>, Paula K and Dr. Ritter.

I can't speak for whether THEY are 'classical trainers' by whoever's definitions, but I am very certain that ALL of my rides with these folks have met the above descriptions, with a specific point of riding the horse always up and open in the truest sense of the phrase.

In other words, they TEACH classical priniciples and when they ride my horses, as some of them do, they ride that way too.

e.g. the goal is to never shut down the horse or disturb him or close off his ability to sit, push and carry by various 'hand riding' actions. Looking at muscling, gaits and and mobility and flexion of joints is very telling, and allows one to spot,much of the time, how a horse has been schooled, and whether such schooling is leading to his longterm preservation or breaking him down physically or mentally or both.

Quest52
Aug. 6, 2009, 03:18 PM
For the very classical rider/trainer there is no “carrot” dangling at the end of the journey and THAT is the true reason why they enjoy the journey NOT the end result. They do not have to speed up the training to get to the end. Most classical riders do not use harsh training methods, they CAN take more time instead. Classical trainers do not pass on not so talented horses and are able to see the best in every horse, b/c they have nothing to prove to people. There are here for horses.

Very competitive trainers/riders are quite opposite, naturally egged on by the competitive nature to prove that they are the best of the best, the cream of the crop:

Changing horses often to progress up the dressage levels.
Horse is sold as soon it's difficult to ride, or not delivering the wanted results.
Riding only the cream of the crop horses while belittling others.
Pushing horses to the brink of their abilities to show what she can do.
Scratching their rides if horse is not going as well as they want them to go, riding only when the horse is at its best.
Happiness measured in the amount of year end awards
What horse can bring them is measured up in the amount of blue peace of fabric.
Partnership is measured how well the horse can submit to the rider in the show ring.
If anything can save time to get to the final goal = it is OK to use it and it is worth it (RK, gag bits, crank & spank, etc.)
You can hear them yelling, blaming their horses from a mile away.
Horse is looked at as disposable equipment.
There is no such thing as "no horse is left behind" or programs for horses with special needs. Only the most talented, most submissive kept.


I disagree with this statement. I am a highly competitive person and think if my horse is acting up and I'm looking for a score to qualify would scratch a class if I was at an upper level at the time. I don't think there HAS to be a direct correlation with someone NOT being classical and their drive to excel. And the other way is also applicable... I know quite a few people who will only ride the "cream of the crop" horse, but will go slow with it... where do you place them? I would never think of a horse as "disposable equipment" but again... would qualify myself as very competitive, that I will try hard, I may yell out of frustration... but you won't catch me beating a horse, or tossing it away...

I just find this comparison to be that of the extreme on either side and not what someone would commonly see.

ThreeFigs
Aug. 6, 2009, 04:05 PM
"And this adjustability should in no way create pain or bewilderment in the horse."

I think his definition is excellent. Sounds to me like you are bringing something else into your rejection of his definition. Things you've seen at competitions, for instance. I'm sure there are others who define "classical" differently. 99.99% of trainers subscribe to the title "classical". But not all of them actually walk the walk.

Go down the comments and read carefully Janet Foy's remarks. As usual, she is spot on.

Karoline
Aug. 6, 2009, 04:35 PM
People can call themselves classical or competitive all day long. If their horses do not meet the 401 criterias they are incorrectly developing their horses. Its up to us horse lovers to get more and more educated as to what is correct musculature, correct tension, correct movement - and then not buy the many new theories or escuses that are manifactured to escuse not adhering to 401.

Unfortunately, the FEI guidelines do get rewritten once in a while, articles get dropped, language is changed to make it a bit more ambiguous so that there is leeway where none should exist since what is at stake is the horse's wellbeing as he is asked to produce more and more demanding work.

Tonja
Aug. 6, 2009, 06:06 PM
I believe that a classically trained horse is totally adjustable to the will of the rider in his rhythm ( how fast or slow), his length of stride ( how long or short), and his frame ( how high or low and how long or short). And this adjustability must in no way create pain or bewilderment to the horse.
That definition is open to such broad interpretation that it’s meaningless. How many people do we see these days riding their poor horses in contorted positions in the name of gaining greater “adjustability”?! :dead:

Classical horsemanship has far more significance than the notion of increasing “adjustability” without causing pain or bewilderment to the horse. Classical horsemanship is nature oriented training that is based on achieving optimal balance and freedom of movement in accordance with the natural way horses move and behave (i.e. the most harmonious way possible).

Roan
Aug. 6, 2009, 06:18 PM
So after being introduced to the concepts of classical dressage from an excellent trainer in Southern CA, I am curious who else practices similar methods in the US. I know of many classical riders in Europe, where it could be argued that classical dressage originated, but I know of very few in the US.

Trying to broaden my horizons here and learn about classical riding in the US, so any comments or pointing toward the right direction are appreciated.

Asking this here just guarantees a train wreck, really :)

Hope this helps:

http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/ClassicalDressage/

Eileen

Dressage Art
Aug. 6, 2009, 07:31 PM
I disagree with this statement. I am a highly competitive person and think if my horse is acting up and I'm looking for a score to qualify would scratch a class if I was at an upper level at the time. I don't think there HAS to be a direct correlation with someone NOT being classical and their drive to excel. And the other way is also applicable... I know quite a few people who will only ride the "cream of the crop" horse, but will go slow with it... where do you place them? I would never think of a horse as "disposable equipment" but again... would qualify myself as very competitive, that I will try hard, I may yell out of frustration... but you won't catch me beating a horse, or tossing it away...

I just find this comparison to be that of the extreme on either side and not what someone would commonly see.

Yes, my examples are "extreme" and I deliberately pointed out that if we look at "extremes" of the spectrum, this is what we'll find. In reality, most of us are somewhere in-between. But my point still stands the same: the difference between classical and competitive is in the HUMAN MINDSET from the get go, even from birth if you want. Some people are motivated by desire to win; others can care less about winning.

I personally never was able to understand or get the satisfaction from blue ribbons/awards. and that's not only in dressage, in art, I won many various awards, even the World Grand Prize at one point - I didn’t felt a happy rush from winning, I felt sad for people who lost, it was difficult for me to see their disappointment, and I felt gratitude for recognition of my work. That's all. For me, it's way too short moment in time that will be fast forgotten = for me it's not worth it. I watch America Got Talent and see some people who are absolutely devastated by not being selected, one woman gave up singing for 7 years after she’s been rejected… I didn’t feel such a strong disappointment for loosing either. It’s not a big deal, you can’t please everybody, and somebody will like my art and my riding, so moving on…

I have many friends who are very competitive like you. I respect their core values, but they are different than mine and it's difficult for me to understand their excitement of wanting to win, spending so much time and $ for that win. For me, it's not worth it. I watch people get exited going to championships – I just don’t feel the same and don’t share the excitement. I just missed the AA championships that I was qualified for b/c it was just too hot for me to show = not worth it for me. + I don't want to see people loosing and crying and so on... I just hate, hate, and hate that aspect of showing. I want them ALL to be winners.

So I really don’t know if I’ll ever be able to understand why you yell out of frustration and may be you’ll never be able to understand how come I don’t care about winning or loosing. For me, the satisfaction is in the daily work that anybody hardly sees... also I love clinics and love when Arthur Kottas gives me thums up for something.

PS: never in my whole life I scratched a class other than for sudden health issues. If I'm there = I show no matter what, it's all for experience and learning how to overcome issues and make lemonade from lemons ;)

slc2
Aug. 6, 2009, 08:33 PM
First of all, I edited my first post because I believe it may have ruffled a few feathers...I am more interested in learning....

Maybe..... ;)

...Those words, which you ripped apart,

I tried to figure out what you meant, the only way to do that is take what you said and try to come up with a positive definition.

were only meant to represent a general concept counter to what I believe classical to be, which, in simplest terms, I believe is harmony with the horse.

Everyone feels their favorite riding style is harmonious, whether it's dressage or not.

..."moving from the hind end" and "lightness." That is so gross and simple to describe something so vast and complicated, maybe it is simply impossible to convey the concept.

It is not complicated, I don't think, but everyone says the riding style they like produces lightness and moving from the hind end, whether they do dressage or not.

..."harsh bits,"....every horse should be able to go in a plain snaffle.

For me the goal should be to do much of the schooling in a mild snaffle bit, but that the double is part of the education of the progressing horse.

...it is something that should be used only when the horse has attained a high level of balance,

Sure, if that's second level, LOL. Most people never get to the point where they are ready for or want to use a double bridle in dressage.

...double bridle should not be used to force the head and neck into hyperflexion...

I don't think most people who do hyperflexion in their training, require or use, a double bridle to do it. I don't feel that a slightly round, deep position automatically destroys everything that goes on; I don't like a very extreme positure, or a single posture.

..but pulling the horse...or using so much leg that the horse's sides lose their sensitivity are unecessary and "forceful."...spurs never digging into the horses sides, but rather used as morse code...as I think they can increase finesse and the vision of effortlessness of the movement.

Sounds good, but most people don't ride that well. I don't expect them all to look super. It's a process...takes time.

As far as heavy on the forehand, I absolutely believe that horses cannot perform correct work in hyperflexion and that it is counterproductive to the horse's welfare. This has been proved by Dr. Gerd Heuschmann in Tug of War.

I don't think GH proved anything. I too don't care for Heuschmann's book or video, which I think takes advantage of people's emotions and uses 'pseudo science' or junk science.

BUT....At the same time, I'm no fan of hyperflexion...but...I don't think the matter is simple. About 1/2 of the hyperflexion trained horses I've ridden felt awful...the other 50%......I'm still puzzling that one out. But it's my own experience that tells me I can't accept this emotional attack. I can't train my horses that way either, so for now, I just listen to both sides and think about it alot.

Of course there are moments when horses are on the forehand... no rider is flawless.

I didn't say that; I don't agree with your position on this matter. I said the amount of on the forehand is relative to the training stage (and I'll add now, conformation) of the horse. I don't feel a degree of on the forehand is due to flawed riding if the horse is a training level horse and he's more on the forehand than a GP horse. I feel he SHOULD be on the forehand related to the GP horse. For me, it's a matter of degree.

There are those horses who are downhill who are built to travel on the forehand.

Quite a few of these can be balanced, if not effortlessly, by strengthening the hind quarter and back, so the horse takes a big strong step under himself. To a point, this works, call it 'power carrying'. Making a horse do something that goes against his build takes its toll over time...correct conditioning and a very skilled hand can mitigate.

But I believe it should be the goal of the rider to get the horse off the forehand and moving from behind. If the horse is moving correctly from behind, then it will not be on the forehand.

In principle I think the above statement is incorrect. Relates to my prev statements about on the forehand.

I have gotten on completely green horses and had them really use their hind end, and they have not been on the forehand,

I don't agree, a completely green horse has to be relatively on his forehand compared to a more trained horse or he will be physically damaged. On the forehand is a matter of degree. The youngster developing thrusting power cannot carry like the GP horse, it takes time to develop the back and hind quarter for that...2, 3, 4, or more years.

so I might not expect a lower level horse to be on the forehand as I think the horse should be asked to move correctly from square one.

In principle I don't agree, though I wouldn't then TRY to make the horse more on the forehand than he already is :)

No, it is not simple, but the concept of desiring to never go on the forehand and the committment to working toward that goal should be fairly simple, which I believe is something practiced by many competent classical riders.

I know of no competent classical or traditional or legit rider that would expect a young green just broke horse to skip the pushing/thrusting stage of training that loosens and correctly develops the back.

I never said that competitive dressage was equal to the things you list, so you are coming up with that one on your own.

I was taking your negative definition and putting into a positive definition, ie, doing as best I could with what you provided.

The only thing I have been discussing so far is classical, with one mention of rollkur and how I find it disturbing.

I had no idea that you found it disturbing, but you used the terms 'forceful', 'form', 'balance' in the same way may opponents of hyperflexion use the words, and it seemed maybe that what you were hinting at was that you didn't like hyperflexion, without coming out and saying it(first post).

people...call themselves classical are not really maintaining the values and riding/teaching of a classical rider, and therefore are not classical.

I doubt that Ernst puts it in terms of being 'classical', or that he spent an equal amount of time in competitive riding as in the SRS, and decided that there are two horsemanships. I'll bet he rides the same darn way in competition that he did at the SRS and that he couldn't give a flying mouse poopy if anyone didn't see it his way. Karl Mikolka did same, and he could get a ten score for a pirouette, and the judges rewarded that consistently because it is correct. I don't feel there are two separate types of dressage, but that there is one type - the correct type. When judges deviate from it they are just 'wrong', to me, not 'unclassical'. It is, to me, either just 'right' or 'wrong'.

I never said that those three were my "favs," merely used them to give everyone an idea of the classical I was referring to.

It just stuns me, though. I can't figure that one out at all. I don't see any similarity between Bachinger and the other two.

As for Philippe Karl, I feel correct rhythm comes first. If the rhythm is not correct, nothing good can come of that. If the movement is backward, it is just incorrect. Nothing else matters til those more fundamental things at the broad base of the training pyramid are remedied. There is no point in talking about a correct piaffe or lowering haunches or lifting the front feet up, if a working trot is incorrect. If the base of the training pyramid is wrong, nothing above it can be right.

I never said the people you mention weren't "worthy."

Sure sounded like it, when you said only a few people in the whole country are worth working wtih.

So, you think that "classical" and "bad riding" seem to run in close proximity, yet there are clearly some decent riders who use classical principles, and they are in America? Hmm.

I don't see it that way exactly. I think that most of the instructors I've seen who make claims about being classical, aren't...which is exactly what YOU said.

But I ALSO think that there are a great many people in this country who are very good dressage trainers, riders and instructors, and that one can find plenty of good people to work with. I don't think writing a flowery, high-sounding book makes a trainer good, and I don't think donning the trappings of experience or traveling to the sacred bastions is the same as having experience. And yes, I DO run the other way when someone beats their chest about how classical they are. Watch out, next comes the cape and handlebar mustache, lol.

....when I look around my "hunter/jumper world" and see everyone going around in draw reins and nasty bits,

When I look around my dressage world, I see wonderful riding. I look for it. I admire it, and I try to get it in my mind because I learn visually. Last weekend I watched an elegant, quiet, soft rider ride a horse that six months ago couldn't do a single change without having a complete and total meltdown, and he did a quiet, soft, uphill, comfortable line of one tempe changes...and they stopped at the end of the line and she patted his neck and he sighed and I thought, 'that is beautiful'. I watched a young person struggle with a hot, active thb that was terrified of changes, and I watched her learn right as she went along, and I watched how she laid the foundation for change work that I knew was going to be really super one day. I watched a beginner struggle to learn to sit the trot and use her reins, and I also thought, 'That is beautiful' because progress was being made.

You want to emphasize the bad, the negative, go ahead, you may feel self righteous, but I don't think you'll be very happy.

That's been in the hj world for a lot longer than the recent spate of hyperflexion in dressage. The dressage people originally COPIED hyperflexion from the jumper people. Nicole Uphoff, one of the first well known international dressage riders to be seen publicly using hyperflexion on an elite dressage horse in a big dressage warmup ring, learned it from a jumper guy., where it was quite common, long before she was first really seen doing it, in 1988, say, at Seoul.

and watch many of the top dressage competitors with horses heads behind the vertical and not travelling from the hind end, with the bottom reins of their double bridles cranked to the full, it makes me wonder.

Oh the world is really going to hell in a bucket, ain't it. ;)

Look. There is always someone one can stand on the ground and tisk tisk at as they go riding by, if you get a high and mighty feeling from doing so I can't do much about that.

Most people are average, and a minority of people ride dressage well, and the rest are just going along best they can - I seriously doubt most of those who aren't working the horses from behind or using the reins well are attempting to perform hyperflexion....they just can't ride well, and that's why they look that way. And to be perfectly honest, I see a lot of people riding pretty doggone well, too.

A very inflammatory subject, I know, so let me pour a little water on the flames and say that this is not to say all do this, this is not a criticism of people or their riding, it is merely pointing out that some definitely do it, and it could be argued that even a majority do it (I can definitely say this for the h/j world), and what will be the results in the long run?

That some of us are always looking around at others riding, and complaining that there is bad riding?

There has always been bad riding. There always will be. People tugging on the reins, or whatever. People struggle. They take years to learn. They take one step forward and two back. They don't have the money, the time, the help, the knowledge, they ride as well as they can...this goes for instructors, students, and everyone else. It's an imperfect world.

Bats79
Aug. 6, 2009, 09:47 PM
I like what you write "ontarget" and can relate to what you are talking about.

I recently "re-started" a very talented, refined and expressive 14yo oldenburg x tb gelding, who was running into the hand and overbending. I decided, deliberately, to do it in only the way I thought Phillipe Karl would recommend.

After 1 month I took the horse out to compete in the 2nd highest level of Adult Riding Club in Vic, Australia, which is about an easy Level 2 test in the US I think. Shoulder-in, counter canter, walk to canter but no flying changes.

I expected to be canned by the judges but I was only out there to teach the horse that he wasn't allowed to be different in the ring. I'll admit to being a bit surprised at how well it came off and even though my hands or hand were frequently very high (he wasn't going to trick me into doing a half halt against the bars of his mouth so he could overbend) the judge didn't come screaming out of the car.

In fact, if you consider that the test was done on grass (we compete frequently on grass in Australia - not FEI tests anymore but certainly all the national ones at some competitions) and this horse doesn't have the best feet, the fact that we scored 73% was pretty fabulous. The judge loved that he didn't come behind the bit, that he kept his poll up, that he stretched INTO the rein at the walk not that he was driven over it, and that his rhythm and balance were kept spot on without heaving half halts or spuring legs.

So, in that sense, going the extreme classical approach certainly paid off.

But I have a question. George Morris recently visited Australia again. The editor of The Horse Magazine is a big fan (and as a breeder of jumping as well as dressage horses I have a dual interest). Mr Morris spoke extremely "classically" and his directions to riders all the way up to our Olympic representatives could not have been more classical than if Phillipe Karl had said it himself. Is this not so in the US as well?

Liz
Aug. 6, 2009, 10:32 PM
Every trainer I have ever met has thought of him or herself as classical. Almost every rider for that matter is trying to learn dressage correctly. Who is out there saying "I am not classical"? Seriously. It is so subject to individual interpretation of what the definition of "classical" is that the question itself is redundant. I do not believe there is any one right way that works on every horse nor any one master who can answer all the questions and train every type of horse.

Why do these discussions always seem to fall into 2 camps? Those that don't compete are "classical" and those that do don't care for their horses well being and will do anything for a ribbon (oh, that is everybody that competes but me :) I compete but I am the exception to the rule....I am classicaly trained....or at least trying to be).

Dressage Art
Aug. 6, 2009, 11:07 PM
I think it doesn't matter if rider shows or rider doesn't show. The difference is not in showing or not showing your horse. SRS riders are quite classical and they do show a lot! Almost weekly = more than any of USDF/USEF riders + they show affront of many people.

The difference between classical and competitive is in the mindset: some people are motivated by desire to win; others can care less about winning.

Its people who want to win mostly keep pushing their horses to the edge and using gadgets. For what? - To win. If you don't care about winning = less chance of using shortcuts and timesavers ;) Less chance to be frustrated and angry on your horse. Less chance of crank and spank harsh training.

If you get upset when you didn't win - chances are you are more of a competitive rider than a classical one.

Wellbeing of the horse is upmost importance for more classical riders. Winning is upmost importance for more competitive riders. Both camps can have correct riders/trainers as well as useless ones. but most of us are somewhere in-between...

Tiligsmom
Aug. 6, 2009, 11:23 PM
Every trainer I have ever met has thought of him or herself as classical. Almost every rider for that matter is trying to learn dressage correctly. Who is out there saying "I am not classical"? Seriously. It is so subject to individual interpretation of what the definition of "classical" is that the question itself is redundant. I do not believe there is any one right way that works on every horse nor any one master who can answer all the questions and train every type of horse.

Why do these discussions always seem to fall into 2 camps? Those that don't compete are "classical" and those that do don't care for their horses well being and will do anything for a ribbon (oh, that is everybody that competes but me :) I compete but I am the exception to the rule....I am classicaly trained....or at least trying to be).

Liz you nailed it! It's always "someone else" who's NOT classical. Problem is.... we're all "someone else"!!!

On Target - There's no "us and them"...it's only created by polarizing arguments or topic titles such as yours. Focus on achieving the objectives in article 401 and drop the "classical vs. competitive" labels and arguments. There are many teachers/trainers who can help you move towards those objectives.

ThreeFigs
Aug. 6, 2009, 11:36 PM
Bravo Liz and Tiligsmom!

Popcorn, anyone?

Liz
Aug. 6, 2009, 11:58 PM
Dressage Art the SRS is no longer gets government money. If you think money is not a motivating factor for the SRS and that they just do all these shows out of the goodness of their own heart than you are deluding yourself. They are putting on a SHOW for MONEY. Don't kid yourself. If a stallion does not perform, guess what, he is replaced. Hmmmmm sound like some "competetive" dressage trainers?

Why is the SRS everyones go to guy for "classical"? Why not Debbie McDonald or Stepphan Peters? Money plays a part for all three.

You know the SRS school teaches some good tricks but I notice....I never see a single horse that can perform ALL the movements the collected work and the extended work (like top international horses are expected to do). When the SRS puts on a show their horses (as impressive as they are) typically specialize in one or two movements. One will come out and piaffe, another will show a different upper level movement but they don't do it all. I am not knocking the SRS, they teach good tricks, but they are not held to the same standard as top competetive dressage horses.

I think of the SRS has a very important role in modern dressage. They are good ambassadors, putting on a show for the general public and perhaps educating people (who do not know anything about dressage) abut what dressage is.

I do not hold them up as the gold standard for dressage.

ontarget
Aug. 7, 2009, 12:03 AM
slc2, I actually agree with a lot of what you say. Maybe most of it even. I think some of the areas where we are arguing may just be a manner of parsing words rather than real disagreement, for example about the green horses. I completely agree with you that it would be ridiculous to expect a recently broke horse to move with perfect balance off the forehand. I think it should be a goal, but yes, takes time and no rider is perfect, nor can they instantly make every horse go perfectly. I also agree with you about strengthening the hind end to help a downhill horse. Horses are horses. Every one is different and requires something different. There is no blanket answer.

As far as negative versus positive, I absolutely see the positive and am not totally interested in the negative. But I don't think I would have gotten any response and thus been able to investigate this topic further if I had made a post about "And today I saw a beautiful thing." ;) Being positive all the time isn't any fun. However, your descriptions of beautiful riding definitely pulled at my heartstrings and reminds me why I ride and why I love to ride. I do not ride to make the world better and change everyone in it, I ride for myself and my horses. It's just fun every now and then to explore other techniques and how they are/aren't helpful.

What you say about the h/j world and it's negative contributions to dressage is EXACTLY spot on, and probably the spark that inspired me to even dream up this thread. I find it very disturbing to watch the GPs in h/j land and see horses flying around with heads flung in the air, mouths gaping with gags and chains, completely out of balance. Hence why I am coming and posting here and why I am trying to incorporate true dressage (classical or not, no it should not go by labels) into my routine. Yes, I may be arguing about hyperflexion and what is or is not classical, but when it comes down to it, I would rather watch a GP dressage rider ANY DAY than a GP jumper rider.

slc, let me say that no matter the amount we agree or disagree, I have tremendous respect for you and your opinions. ;)

Tiligsmom, you are exactly right. No, there should not be labels. It is good riding, and bad riding, and maybe, just maybe, slc has opened my eyes a little bit to simply accepting that there are bad riders out there and always will be and there's nothing I can do about that except maybe set my own example and discuss it, as I feel I'm doing here. I am not trying to polarize an argument, and frankly I don't even know where the classical vs. competitive thing came up, because I never said classical riders weren't competitive. This thread may have been an argument for some, but I, personally, see it as very enlightening. :)


But I have a question. George Morris recently visited Australia again. The editor of The Horse Magazine is a big fan (and as a breeder of jumping as well as dressage horses I have a dual interest). Mr Morris spoke extremely "classically" and his directions to riders all the way up to our Olympic representatives could not have been more classical than if Phillipe Karl had said it himself. Is this not so in the US as well?

This is very interesting and I am glad you brought it up! My trainer actually recently had a conversation with him that went something like (trainer to George) "why don't you do something about the US Olympic Team and how they train/compete?" His answer was that it was completely useless because riders were not going to take the long and dedicated route when they could achieve the same result with shortcuts, no matter what was best for the horse. Obviously very abbreviated, but you get the idea. He has been bringing up these "classical" concepts (and yes, I will put a label on it for the time being for the sake of being concise), but not to any sort of extent. This is news to me that he is actually advising riders to be more classical! I really hope he does start advising riders this way in the US, because riders and trainers definitely will listen to him. I wonder how our closed h/j minds will process this information.....

Dressage Art
Aug. 7, 2009, 12:06 AM
Liz, do you really believe that competitive riders like Anky and such think of themselves as "classical"? I don't think so, I think they laugh at "classical" and call them “suckers”!

If there is no such thing as this divide, how do you explain an absolute opposite views on the same rider and the way she rides (Kassandra’s thread)? Some say that’s its borderline abuse, yet others say its elegance and class all the way. Why those people view the same riding so differently? What makes them view it so differently? What then divides them?

Karoline
Aug. 7, 2009, 01:47 AM
Horses at the SRS and I believe the Cadre Noir and Jerez (dont know about the Portugal school) learn the haute ecole move they are best suited to, most cannot do all of them but are masters at the ones they do. Which I think is respectful of the horse individuality. Why try and make a horse that can do spectacular levade do a mediocre pessade? I also dont consider that work tricks. Its the pinnacle of physical and mental conditioning when done correctly as the Schools do. Consider that some of the horses are in their mid twenties and consider the amount of power needed for these movements. Not every horse and definitely not every trainer or rider can touch that work. It is that much more impressive as I doubt that these horses get the "benefit" of monthly (if not twice monthly) hock injects, adequan, etc...

slc2
Aug. 7, 2009, 07:31 AM
When you get to the point where even the SRS isn't good enough for you, you've taken a little trip in your mind that you need a return ticket from, fast.

I feel the criticism of the SRS is off base. It is not realistic to expect all the horses to do a capriole equally well, or all the horses to do a levade equally well. That's not realistic. The school jumps ARE specialized. This is normal. To expect otherwise is simply not realistic.

Too, even though one horse in the show may be chosen for his brilliance at the capriole, say, be assured, it is a part of all the other horse's training too, but one may excell at it.

You know how they PICK which horse is the best at a given school jump?

Well, according to Mairinger, one day, they're sitting around chatting, and they hear a WHACK and see a stall cleaner guy go flying across the aisle in the air. And the story goes, they run over and find out immediately which horse sent him flying, because THAT horse is going to make a great caprioler!

Come on people, LIGHTEN UP. I even heard someone have a fit once that an SRS stallion tossed his head. THE HORSE HAD A FLY ON HIS NOSE. Come on, for heaven's sake, let's not go insane here. YOU GUYS complain about competitive riders - you should go to someone's barn sometime, and watch them do a line of 50 one tempe changes with the reins hanging down, with the horse's eyes shut, while they're talking on a cell phone or watch one of them velcro-ass themselves to a youngster that is gayly comporting himself in a series of pronghorn like leaps of joy across the ring.

You all seem to so desperately want to see the BAD IN EVERYTHING OUT THERE, WHY DON'T YOU LOOK FOR SOME GOOD, FOR A CHANGE?

I CANNOT EVEN BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND THE PERMEATINGLY NEGATIVE, WHINEY MINDSET I HAVE READ HERE FOR YEARS. WHY ARE YOU MAKING YOURSELVES SO MISERABLE? MAKE YOU FEEL SORT OF SELF RIGHTEOUS? AT WHAT COST? AT THE COST OF YOUR OWN RIDING AND MENTAL OUTLOOK, THAT'S WHAT THE COST IS.

I feel a GREAT MANY of the criticisms and complaints we read on this bulletin board are because people are not well educated and they read a little in a book and develop incredibly unrealistic expectations of those they look around at - like a newly minted evangelist or someone who quit smoking and now runs around pulling ciggies out of people's mouths.

Competitive horses ALSO ALL have specific strengths and weaknesses, AS DO ALL HORSES. I had one that just naturally could sweep across the ground in a perfect extended trot that would make your eye teeth fall out of your head. Another that was so good at collection, just naturally right from the start. ALL HORSES ARE IMPERFECT. ALL HAVE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES. I had one that could do a half pass that would make you cry. The more collected, more compact horse will NEVER have the sweep in the half pass tht she had. The key of competitive riding is to take a horse that is ALWAYS a 'specialist' and create a horse that is a 'versatilist', that does many things very well.

When we start complaining about the riding at the SRS, we need to give OURSELVES a big old half halt and say, whoa, nelly, what the hell am I thinking.

The SRS horses do show faults at times, and do things incorrectly. This is because they are animals, not robots. Don't expect the impossible. Don't expect perfect robots.

When in the large quadrille, just to keep the group together, the horses often will take short, less energetic steps or even walk while the others trot to stay in pattern, and sometimes they have to half halt and you can SEE the half halt, god forbid, what a tragedy. What do you EXPECT them to do? It's a pattern ride, they have to stay together.

Not only that, do you know how long they take to train the horses up thru the levels? Not very long. Before you whine about how quickly 'ALL' competitive riders bring horses into the top levels, yo ushould get a gander at how long the SRS takes. It ain't 10 years, it ain't even five years.

When we watched the SRS horses in USA a few years ago, I saw one of the horses bolt, he was so excited. The rider gave a mighty old come-to-jesus half halt, the horse had a big strong neck, he was very straight and he got VERY strong with his rider.

He was a young horse new to the top level and new to being in the ring at a strange place when all the other horses in the ring are levading, caprioling, etc. And he was just naturally a very active, busy horse, anyone could see that. He lost it. He watched one horse start his canter windup and BOOM, he lost it.

And you know what I said? BRAVO. WONDERFUL. These horses are not perfect robots, they are horses. The rider brought the horse back, and started 'winding him up' (they do an extremely collected in-place canter and 'wind up' for a jump, my SO, a baseball fan kept whispering, 'here comes the windup, watch for it...watch for it...', LOL) and the horse did a BRILLIANT capriole, and piaffed away looking like he was about to explode. The rider gave him a gentle pat on the neck and he exhaled and relaxed.

I thought, 'I just saw something fantastic'. Not only did the years of correct training produce a rider who sat like a statue during every bit of the horse's shenanigans, he was able to bring the horse back, focus him and harness that energy, and then right away, give the horse something to do and praise him for doing it. So brilliant. Instead of a loss of temper out of fear and insecurity, the rider reacted with an absolutely calm and secure response, and a PERFECT response.

Karl Mikolka has told great stories about the SRS, one, that Podhajsky was ripping one rider up and down for having problems long lining a horse. The horse had taken off in a fit of bucking. Podhajsky took over the reins and declared he would show the rider how to do it properly, well OFF went the horse across the ring dragging Herr Podhajsky for a great Nantucket sleigh ride. He ATE DIRT. PODHAJSKY. And after being rescued, stated that he had a great deal of office work to do, LOL.

Another story that he loves to tell involves one horse MOUNTING ANOTHER DURING A PERFORMANCE....LOL. THEY ARE HORSES, PEOPLE. One stallion kept getting on the rump of the one in front of him and THAT stallion kept soldiering on manfully, LOL.

The SRS has the same problems of any riding school. When Podhajsky arrived, he had a FIT about how they were schooling the collected walk, he had an absolute COW. He declared that they had been doing it WRONG for so long that WRONG had become a TRADITION. He immediately insisted the schooling be changed. And it was.

And you know what? The difference between what he had in mind and what was being done probably was something MOST OF US COULD NEVER EVEN SEE. THAT'S how they roll. And the fresh ideas he brought from his cavalry training BENEFITTED the school, just like a different point of view ALWAYS benefits a process, no matter how good it already is.

Much like Georg Theodorescu who was tearing out his already compromised coiffure over a judging issue in the collected trot most people could never even detect, let alone understand or remedy, who stormed out of a committee meeting over it.

At one point, they had only ONE rider who he felt really had the complete knowledge of the school jumps, and that rider was EIGHTY THREE, P. was in a panic to get the knowledge passed down to the other riders. He worked VERY had to get that to happen. He had a FIT that things had gotten to that point.

The other thing is - the SRS riders compete. THEY ALWAYS HAVE, most of them, in fact. Podhajsky was an absolutely rabid competitor, show jumping, dressage, I think even eventing as a young man. Most of them also have a private training business and they horse show - A LOT. THEY COMPETE. DILIGENTLY. SUCCESSFULLY. They need the judges, they WANT the judges, they WANT to be criticized and hear different opinions.

PEOPLE.....THIS IS WHY THE SRS IS SO GOOD. NOT BECAUSE THEY NEVER HAVE PROBLEMS, BUT BECAUSE THEY SEE WHAT THEY ARE DOING WITHOUT PREJUDICE, AND ARE RELENTLESSLY SELF CRITICAL YET ALWAYS WORKING HARD TO TAKE THINGS FORWARD.

Read Charles Harris' notebooks. Yes, I realize Charles was completely mad. BUT HE TOOK VERY GOOD NOTES. READ THEM.

Out of hundreds and hundreds of notes about his three years there, about 99% of the notes are about one thing - SECURE CORRECT POSITION. It don't get more 'classical' than that folks. He was there for THREE YEARS, riding daily on very well schooled horses, and WHAT WAS HE WORKING ON. No, actually, he wasn't just sitting on a longe horse all the time, he worked on a great deal, but the emphasis on position is always there.

The thing that makes them INCREDIBLE is the knowledge passed to each rider, PLUS the foundation they put on the riders. LOOK AT THOSE RIDERS SOMETIME! Absolutely open hip and perfectly secure leg and hand. HOW DO YOU THINK THAT HAPPENS?

Where do you think great riding comes from? It comes from a hell of a lot of hard work, and a lot of imperfect moments, and you find your way in and out between all the posers and bad instructors by doing things wrong, and finding out it's wrong, and fixing it.

Rusty Stirrup
Aug. 7, 2009, 08:00 AM
I agree with Dressage Art. Only my humble opinion. To me "classical" has always meant using time-tested, horse friendly, training. It means helping whatever horse one has to work with to the top of their abilities and talents whether it be 1st level, grand prix, western pleasure or trail riding. Showing or not showing. Every horse should be a "pleasure" horse regardless of talent. If one is driven to win in the ring, one will find a way. Of course, a lot of classical trainers show and even enjoy it, but I think the motivation is different.

Roan
Aug. 7, 2009, 08:12 AM
When you get to the point where even the SRS isn't good enough for you, you've taken a little trip in your mind that you need a return ticket from, fast.

I feel the criticism of the SRS is off base. It is not realistic to expect all the horses to do a capriole equally well, or all the horses to do a levade equally well. That's not realistic. The school jumps ARE specialized. This is normal. To expect otherwise is simply not realistic.

Too, even though one horse in the show may be chosen for his brilliance at the capriole, say, be assured, it is a part of all the other horse's training too, but one may excell at it. . . .

I haven't read all of slc's response as yet -- too long and too early in the morning -- however I have to agree with what she's written in the first few paragraphs.

ALL of the school stallions are trained up to the piaffe. The piaffe is the precursor to the levade, which is the precursor of all the other Airs. Just because only the best are asked to perform the upper level movements does not mean the other high school horses cannot do them. They can.

Eileen

Roan
Aug. 7, 2009, 08:19 AM
. . .Out of hundreds and hundreds of notes about his three years there, about 99% of the notes are about one thing - SECURE CORRECT POSITION. It don't get more 'classical' than that folks. He was there for THREE YEARS, riding daily on very well schooled horses, and WHAT WAS HE WORKING ON. No, actually, he wasn't just sitting on a longe horse all the time, he worked on a great deal, but the emphasis on position is always there.

The thing that makes them INCREDIBLE is the knowledge passed to each rider, PLUS the foundation they put on the riders. LOOK AT THOSE RIDERS SOMETIME! Absolutely open hip and perfectly secure leg and hand. HOW DO YOU THINK THAT HAPPENS?

Where do you think great riding comes from? It comes from a hell of a lot of hard work, and a lot of imperfect moments, and you find your way in and out between all the posers and bad instructors by doing things wrong, and finding out it's wrong, and fixing it.

Finally read it all. Good post slc.

I'd like to add: the work on the seat never ends at the SRS. Even the Chief Rider goes back to work on the longe occasionally. All of them do.

Eileen

Liz
Aug. 7, 2009, 08:35 AM
Dressage Art - I never mentioned Anky as an example, I might mention Ingrid Klimke but I did not mention Anky.

I have no issue with the SRS. I have issue with people who generalize about competetion riders/trainers and say "most" are not classical because all they want is a ribbon and are only in it for the money or they do not put their horse first or take their time to train them correctly. I have shown dressage and hunter/jumper and I have yet to meet this "competetion" person who put winning over the welfare of their horse, yet these threads make it sound like everyone who shows is like that (again, everybody but me..)

I am not saying they are not out there but it is the exception, not the rule.

I do not think the SRS has the monopoly on correct riding.

slc2
Aug. 7, 2009, 08:40 AM
Agree on all points.

ThreeFigs
Aug. 7, 2009, 09:15 AM
Ooh, Liz, after your post (#36) I withdraw the praise. "Tricks?" C'mon now! You know better than that.

Liz
Aug. 7, 2009, 09:29 AM
Sorry :) It was late and I was annoyed.

Dressage Art
Aug. 7, 2009, 01:01 PM
Liz, did you really called SRS "trick riding"? Ummm, can I then challenge you to ride affront Arthur Kottas and show him how dressage is really done? He was in charge of SRS for about 40 years, trained100+ horses to GP and 1000+ riders, is a national FEI judge, but you claim that he can learn how to ride a correct dressage from you Liz?

You belittle centuries of correct dressage works of SRS just b/c you were "annoyed"?

Liz
Aug. 7, 2009, 02:38 PM
Dressage Art, when did I claim Arthur Kottas could learn correct dressage from me?

I am only saying they do not have the monopoly on correct dressage and just because someone competes does not mean they are somehow less classical and only in it for a ribbon.


To all who have read my post - I used the word "tricks" in reference to the SRS and I should not have. To anyone who was offended I apologize. I am just sick and tired of people saying the only thing that motivates people who compete is the desire to win and the only people who are enlightened and truely want to ride better are those who do not compete.

For example, this quote from Dressage Art
"The difference between classical and competetive is the mindset: Some people are motivated by desire to win: others care less about winning. It's people who want to win mostly keep pushing their horses to the edge and using gadgets. For what - to win"

I compete because it is a challenge. I want to ride a good test, not for a ribbon but because it is a challenge to ride a test well. I enjoy that aspect of competition, especially as you move up the levels.

I have a competitive mindset but I do not use gadgets, I take my time, and I consider myself classical.

Now, I am done with this thread......I have to go get ready for a horse show :)

Tamara in TN
Aug. 7, 2009, 02:44 PM
ALL of the school stallions are trained up to the piaffe. The piaffe is the precursor to the levade, which is the precursor of all the other Airs. Just because only the best are asked to perform the upper level movements does not mean the other high school horses cannot do them. They can.

Eileen

as I understand it, it is not just the "best", but the ones who perform <x> movement the "best"

so one will perform the Levade and another the Capriole and another something else...because due to natural aptitude, they specialize in that movement after a certain time...

Rusty Stirrup
Aug. 7, 2009, 02:54 PM
as I understand it, it is not just the "best", but the ones who perform <x> movement the "best"

so one will perform the Levade and another the Capriole and another something else...because due to natural aptitude, they specialize in that movement after a certain time...


True. I saw KM preform capriole when he first came to the US with a shetland pony that had a natural talent for the movement.

Arizona DQ
Aug. 7, 2009, 03:16 PM
Horses at the SRS and I believe the Cadre Noir and Jerez (dont know about the Portugal school) learn the haute ecole move they are best suited to, most cannot do all of them but are masters at the ones they do. Which I think is respectful of the horse individuality. Why try and make a horse that can do spectacular levade do a mediocre pessade? I also dont consider that work tricks. Its the pinnacle of physical and mental conditioning when done correctly as the Schools do. Consider that some of the horses are in their mid twenties and consider the amount of power needed for these movements. Not every horse and definitely not every trainer or rider can touch that work. It is that much more impressive as I doubt that these horses get the "benefit" of monthly (if not twice monthly) hock injects, adequan, etc...


THANK YOU!!!:yes: Well said! ;)

merrygoround
Aug. 7, 2009, 03:30 PM
So after being introduced to the concepts of classical dressage from an excellent trainer in Southern CA, I am curious who else practices similar methods in the US. I know of many classical riders in Europe, where it could be argued that classical dressage originated, but I know of very few in the US.

Trying to broaden my horizons here and learn about classical riding in the US, so any comments or pointing toward the right direction are appreciated.

Having waded through the sometimes mildly acrimonius posts here, I am stunned by the absolutle ignorance displayed by some of the posters. How parochial they are. they see only what is in their back yard. I say just some. There have been many sensible comments.

There are many classical instructors out there. They just don't label themselves as classical, nor do they never compete. Some compete and do very well, and the methods and system they use are classical.

I do not consider myself a "classical instructor" or rider, but my horses, and those of my students do not require a double bridle, nor do any of us have the biceps or forearms of a weight lifter. My horses learn to do most transitions with very little if no hand action, other than a supporting rein, and I teach the same way. And I learned all this from non "classical instructors". One, horrors, even rode in an Olympics.

Does it take work? Does it take concentration? Does it take time? Does it take patience? All of the above and then some. And while one instructor may become a major factor in ones's learning journey, most of us learn something from each. And some of us :sigh: are still learning.

End of rant. :)

Roan
Aug. 7, 2009, 04:06 PM
as I understand it, it is not just the "best", but the ones who perform <x> movement the "best"

so one will perform the Levade and another the Capriole and another something else...because due to natural aptitude, they specialize in that movement after a certain time...

Exactly.

Eileen

slc2
Aug. 7, 2009, 05:14 PM
After a few brilliant PM's from some very smart people, I SUDDENLY REALIZED MY POSTS ON THIS THREAD WERE TOO SHORT!

So I will add the comment - we have to actuallly be sure that people who say they are from the SRS, are indeed. Most people who have worked and ridden there(and yes, there are plenty who say they have and haven't, or didn't last very long), are going to be good riders. They aren't going to hang on the reins, tell people to pull the horse's face off, or do things the horse isn't ready for, etc. Anyone who's been there, REALLY been there, and successfully survived the program there, knows HOW TO TEACH, as well as ride. That is part of their training there too.

I think....not everyone who comes out of there is GOOD at teaching Americans! And yes, even some who come out of there aren't that good.

What we have to remember is, in general, a person who spends twenty or thirty years taking riding lessons every day from knowledgeable people and getting watched and corrected and challenged as they ride and train a series of horses, after 6 mo or a year of doing nothing but get longed an hour a day with no stirrups, is probably going to be pretty damned good at doing SOMETHING!

YES! They don't always know how to tackle people and horses here. It is a huge adjustment - not as much as it USED to be - in the past, they were much more 'in an ivory tower', and the disconnect between how they were trained and what the average dressage rider in America needed was...huge. I think it's different now. Most of them have training businesses outside the school and go to those in the afternoons - they're more likely to run into more 'averagely prepared' students.

I personally took lessons from an 'SRS Fraud'. She had never been there, but claimed to have been there for training for a long period of time. But, even so, she was an ok instructor for the level I was at. But she had none of the credentials she claimed to have. And no, I didn't know she was a fake til some time after she...disappeared....I was later told that she moved around the country, moving each time she was found out.

The instructor who told me this, just laughed and said, 'My dear, you could have all the 'students of Georg Vahl' hold hands, and they'd reach to the moon and back'. It is not just claiming to have a long association with a specific school or trainer, people claim to have trained horses they didn't train, and a variety of other things... Caveat emptor, LOL.

There are a number of people going around teaching today who definitely have not ever spent any time at the SRS or been connected to it or its riders in even the most far fetched ways. There are some who I'm not so sure about. And I think there are a very few who have either left after a short stint, or taken 'paid lessons' from an SRS rider at their training business, or are otherwise stretching their association with the school. I think it would be very difficult for a student with less tenure to teach Americans, even if s/he had gone thru the longeing/seat work and started riding there. Teaching isn't anywhere as easy as riding. Teaching is a bi...you know.

I do want to make something clear, though...I really feel strongly about it...

We cannot be too quick to judge what we see at clinics.

I have been to PLENTY over the years, where I have thought, Oh my god, this looks awful, why in the world is this going on. During a clinic there is very little time to get anything done and very little time to get the idea to the rider. The horse may not respond ideally and the rider may be nervous and not understand.

We have to remember, that especially where a serious problem exists with the training, we may seem some not so pretty things in a clinic. When the training has really gone off the track, getting it back on is not always pretty.

I've seen horses who couldn't leg yield or shoulder in, worked on half pass...and it's benefitted.

I've seen riders told to set their hands, yes, actually, even to pull on the reins, and it's benefitted.

I've seen tempe changes fix single changes that horrifically sucked, I've seen piaffe fix a very ordinary 2nd level trot, the world is not so simple a place. I'm not advocating ignoring all the good advice one's ever been given, but I'm just saying, we have to just watch, and think and listen sometimes.

When there is a serious problem, the way to address it isn't always all sweetness and light.

We have to remember, at a clinic, we have to keep an open mind and really not be too judgemental.

And yes, I have a limit as to how far I take that advice myself, LOL. But we do have to, most of the time, keep an open mind.

slc2
Aug. 7, 2009, 05:33 PM
I'm going to defend Liz, because she is very right. And because she's sending me fifty dollars for doing so, but I digress.

This permeating claptrap here, there competitive riders are somehow all (or even mostly) inferior to 'the real riders' is just that, claptrap. It is one of the most annoying, whiney, negative themes here, and I don't blame her for getting tired of it quickly. I've been listening to it for 10 years and it is just OLD, people.

YES, there are some who are not competing well, but actually, the majority of competing riders I know ADORE their horses, and are very devoted to them, and work hard ON THEMSELVES to excel. They put an immense amount of self criticism into it and they seek out a judge in order to improve themselves, NOT to carry home 'a scrap of ribbon'. This perpetually sawing woodwind instrument called 'competers suck' is just a piece of nonsense and I wish that whilst I still breathe, it gets a decent burial.

Dressage Art
Aug. 7, 2009, 05:41 PM
You know the SRS school teaches some good tricks but I notice....I never see a single horse that can perform ALL the movements the collected work and the extended work (like top international horses are expected to do). When the SRS puts on a show their horses (as impressive as they are) typically specialize in one or two movements. One will come out and piaffe, another will show a different upper level movement but they don't do it all. I am not knocking the SRS, they teach good tricks, but they are not held to the same standard as top competetive dressage horses.

I think of the SRS has a very important role in modern dressage. They are good ambassadors, putting on a show for the general public and perhaps educating people (who do not know anything about dressage) abut what dressage is.

I do not hold them up as the gold standard for dressage.Some people don't like it, but I LOVE it! It's again in the mindset ;)

Yes, SRS horses are valued for their own talents and developed to shine with their own light. SRS doesn't dismiss horses just b/c they can't do it ALL or just b/c they can't score 70% or go to the Olympics. SRS doesn't get rid of horses just b/c they don't have a flashy natural trot or they are not imported WBs. SRS is able to see and develop talent in many different horses, horses like I and many, many others ride. Their work is more relevant to me than the work of Olympics Medalists, since I never will own/ride Ravel or Totalis or Salinero or Brentina. SRS teaches what dressage can do with hundreds of horses, not just a selected cream of the crop ones. And this is what I LOVE about classical dressage that SRS represents!!! It's dressage not for a selected few, but for the rest of us.

It's quite an opposite thinking than going thru thousands of horses to find the one who can do it all, and disposing of others during that search. For me, again it's not worth it. I would be ashamed to go thru many horses just to get a ribbon/award, but that's just me...

I really don't mind that SRS horses can't do it all perfectly - that is not what's important for me. Who said that there is a standard that 1 horse must be able to do it all perfectly? Why not include haute ecole in the Olympics if Olympic horses can do it all? If those Olympic horses are the highest standard of dressage, why they can't do the unquestionable pinnacle of the dressage collection: haute ecole? With out that, it's not really a High School Trained dressage horse ;)

No, I do not hold Olympic horses as the gold standard for dressage. For me SRS horses are closer to it.

Dressage Art
Aug. 7, 2009, 05:49 PM
I have a competitive mindset but I do not use gadgets, I take my time, and I consider myself classical.

Now, I am done with this thread......I have to go get ready for a horse show :)It seems that you are contradicting yourself here.. If you consider yourself classical and don't use gadgets, why do you argue for the supper competitive (Olympic horses?) side that uses gadgets and shortcuts? Why you are pinning SRS horses against Olympic horses? Seems something in missing here...

Good luck with your show. I'm done for this year, since I already got the required 5 scores of 60%+ to qualify for the CDS championships.

slc2
Aug. 7, 2009, 06:49 PM
What all gadgets do ALL the elite competitive riders use? Most of them don't use anything but their hand on the reins and their ass in the saddle, :lol:

A person with even a modicum of skill doesn't rely on gadgets.

Liz
Aug. 7, 2009, 08:23 PM
I know I was not going to do this but, Dressage Art, to respond to your last post I need you to clear something up for me.....what are the short cuts that all super competitive Olympic level riders use. And please do not go into rolkur because not all "super competitive" Olympic level riders use rolkur.

My issue is not with the SRS, my issue is with you when you post things that insinuate that all competition riders are only in it for the ribbons and cut corners and set aside the horses well being for the sake of the next show. That is of course (according to your post), everybody but you. If I have a competitive mindset I can not practice classical values.

I have met many wonderful generous people at horse shows. Sometimes they have an off day and a bystander in the stands may get the wrong impression. I try to give most people the benefit of the doubt because I would want people to give me the benefit of the doubt.

I wish you all the success at your regional championships, I have also qualified for my regional championships. My issue is less with you personally than with the generalizations of your statements.

ThreeFigs
Aug. 7, 2009, 09:20 PM
I am in agreement with Liz on this point. While I can only aspire to ride like an SRS Chief Rider in my dreams, I do the best I can in competitive dressage. It is a humbling and at the same time exalting experience. I teach and train with the best interests of the horse in mind. Do I use "classical" methods? Well, yes, I suppose I do. I also compete. Refer to my earlier posts.

This is why I like to sit with my bowl of popcorn and Margaritas and watch the "Classical" people try to tell the "Competitive" people they can't possibly have pure motives, take short cuts, and toss their used horses away like Kleenex. Hogwash!

slc2
Aug. 7, 2009, 09:22 PM
My favorite is the clinician who told us that you either cheat and take shortcuts, or you put your butt in the saddle, and you ride better than them that do.

I like that.

Dressage Art
Aug. 7, 2009, 11:45 PM
My issue is not with the SRS, my issue is with you when you post things that insinuate that all competition riders are only in it for the ribbons and cut corners and set aside the horses well being for the sake of the next show. That is of course (according to your post), everybody but you. If I have a competitive mindset I can not practice classical values.Wow, I feel from your posts that you do have an issue with SRS, actually several recurring issues...

You are twisting my words to suit you. I never wrote that "everybody but me" is not classical b/c they compete. Actually, I wrote that classical and competitive is NOT about showing or not showing at all. It's about how far are you willing to go for a ribbon. It's good that all of the competitive people you met were wonderful to horses. Unfortunately, I met already too many who border on the abuse: excessive RK, gag bits, crank and spank, draw reins, blood from spurs, blood from twisted bits, welts from whips, yanking on horse’s mouth, lunging ponies with cranked up side reins – there are so many, many, many examples of that and they don’t stop coming! May be it's time you opened your eyes and looked around? Why those people are using such shortcuts spank and crank methods? To enrich their journey? No, they are using it to WIN.

I do not support the desire to win no matter what. Horses are wonderful creatures who give their hearts and their lives to us. They are happy to work for us, but it’s not them who will be frustrated if they will not get a blue ribbon. It's only humans who get pleasure from it and it strokes their egos. I do not support harsh riding for the sake of winning. And I'm not going to change my mind just b/c you have a problem with that.

Honestly, to me it seems that you feel guilty for some parts of your training thus you are saying that all competitive riders are just wonderful and you are putting down SRS. And I do take offence with that.

Liz
Aug. 8, 2009, 12:08 AM
.

Dressage Art
Aug. 8, 2009, 12:10 AM
Classical" people try to tell the "Competitive" people they can't possibly have pure motives, take short cuts, and toss their used horses away like Kleenex. Hogwash!I lived thru that with my own mare that was called a “trail horse with 4 flat tires who will only look good next to the Quarter horses.” (and she is a GOOD horse)– Nobody was twisting that trainer’s arm to badmouth my mare who can’t stand up for herself to that trainer. I was told to sell her or to leave my mare with them for 2 weeks for full time training and not come watch what they will do to her to “fix” her rearing. (!!!???!!!) I was also told that she will never go above 2nd level since she rears up when collected. Well, this year we got up to 64% on 4th level – good enough for me and absolutely no reason to discard of my mare. So I am walking the walk, not just talking the talk. I know others who went thru that as well and others who ended up picking up those fancy discarded horses. Unfortunately, I do see people who are tossing their horses away like Kleenex. My mare would off been one of them. Even some horses that costs $100K+ (some people here know a few of those as well). You are very lucky not to go thru that and not witness that. But just b/c you didn’t go thru that (yet), may be you didn’t train with ambitious enough trainer yet, so please don’t dismiss the experiences of others. For some of us, this is a very sad reality, not“Hogwash!” It also just so happened that a trainer who helped me to turn my mare around was a classical one.

There is absolutely no way, that I will ever again put all of the dressage riders/trainers in the same category and believe that they all have pure intentions. If I see somebody chasing blue ribbons, I’m ready to puke, since I can now imagine what goes on behind the closed doors in their barns, since I witnessed that every day – and yes, they do love, love, love their horses, but still work them to the bone with all kinds of shortcuts.

No, I’m not saying that it’s ALL of them, but I am pointing out that this issue does exists and I hope that I will be able to speak up about it and make more people aware that they can enjoy their horses with out buying and selling them every 6 months. You just have to meet a trainer who can see those horses individual talents and cherish them for their individual talents, not chaise THE Horse that can do it all and can deliver 70% + blue ribbon for your ride.

Dressage Art
Aug. 8, 2009, 12:22 AM
.Holly Cow Liz that was so low, but you already called SRS "trick riding", so I'm not surprised. I can only imagine what you will do if you really got angry... I hope your horse doesn't feel your short temper...

slc2
Aug. 8, 2009, 06:35 AM
She didn't call it 'trick riding'.

She said 'teaching' (or riding, I forget) ' all the tricks'.

I very often hear piaffe, passage, tempe changes and pirouettes, referred to by legitimate, very traditional and very good, trainers, as 'the tricks'. It doesn't mean they are bad riders or that they are not teaching the horses correctly. It's just a shortcut phrase.

For example, as you've seen time and again from threads here, 'schoolmaster' can mean anything from a GP horse to an easy to ride 2nd level horse.

'That schoolmaster horse for sale, does he know all the tricks?'

'Oh yes, ALL the tricks, and anyone can get up on him and do the tricks, he's really fun and a great schoolmaster'.

It's just slang. It doesn't mean she's saying the SRS riders are 'trick riders' or 'circus riders'.

Unfortunately, not every rider with every association with the SRS always has an easy time coming to the US and teaching. It is a very, very difficult thing to do, to come here.

It used to be, that the SRS riders were accused of being in an 'ivory tower'. That ISN'T because they would come here and teach and everyone would perfectly like everything they do. In fact, the opposite is true.

They used to compete over how much blood they had on their pants after a ride, and how many blisters.

Charles Harris wrote that the one thing most people did after a brief time in the program, was try to find a graceful way to get the hell OUT of the program. He said after years of teaching and riding, what he realized when he started riding there, was that he didn't know ANYTHING about riding. 50 or more years later, it is STILL a very demanding program.

Nowadays, most of them have a training business they go to in the afternoons, so they see more a variety of horses and backgrounds of riders. But a YOUNG SRS rider is a YOUNG rider. It is not some magikal system where you walk through the door and are suddenly annointed and know everything. Even though it's probably still the best rider preparation in the world, it STILL takes time.

If all you ever saw was riders with a year of seat work on the longe line who then had years and years of rigorous training, on one type/breed of horse that had received excellent training all its life, you have certain expectations and you have a certain way of doing things. To get plunked down in the middle of a virtual food processor of conflicting methods and very fragmentedly trained riders, it's very difficult.

When you go to teach a clinic here, you have absolutely no idea of what you're going to run into, or what sort of 'philosophy' the rider has. He may have never ridden his horse with a connection to the reins, or never put his leg on his horse. You can tell him to do something perfectly correctly, and see it blow up in your face.

RARELY is a horse taken to a clinic in a fit condition, and RARELY does the horse and rider have correct enough basic training to benefit or to respond in even a SLIGHTLY predictable way. You may do what has worked for you time and again, and hit a brick wall. It just isn't easy. PLEASE do not judge too hard, what you see at clinics.

On the other hand, people very often have good reasons for what they say, and they don't always say here, what their reasons are. You just have to trust that they have had experiences that lead them to say what they are saying, and accept that.

When two people go to a clinic, they can describe what they saw in very, very different terms. One person might be in favor of what they saw and another not in favor. He may change his mind later. If he has only a very small sample to judge from (1 session, 1 rider from the school) and he's confused by what he sees, he's going to have a certain opinion.

He is allowed to be confused, to say he doesn't like something, to have doubts. This is a very important part of him maturing as a rider and trainer in dressage. It doesn't matter who it is or how much other people may admire him. A person has to go through a process.

Later, when he has more information, his opinion may change. Or not. But he's entitled to go through his own thought process and to learn and grow in the direction his principles take him in. Others are entitled to challenge him, of course.

Otherwise, we'd have a nation of mindlessly alcohol tail blocking, rollkuring, ear twisting dressage riders. An open atmosphere for learning, for disagreeing, for processing what one sees over time, for thoughts to develop and change, is really all we have in the US. We don't have zillians of well trained instructors, a consistent training philosophy, or a consistent way of developing riders, we don't have enough licensed, well trained trainers for all the people who wish to learn. All we really have is open discourse, with all its confusion, delays, side tracks and off the tracks people.

Rusty Stirrup
Aug. 8, 2009, 07:12 AM
Let's face it, if you are a top level professional in ANY DISCIPLINE you need to get the horses in the ring and winning quickly. One does not have the luxury of decades of training. You learn what "short cuts" you can use and what the judges are rewarding. Now, read carefully, I'm not saying all these horses are abused or even unhappy but their training is different than the AA or even serious one or two horse upper level rider.

slc2
Aug. 8, 2009, 07:26 AM
I haven't found that to be the case with ALL, sorry, not even a few.

What I have seen is very, very consistent. I'm sure there are some wannabe's out there who can't or won't follow a program.

But what I see is different.

The training is efficient, and focused. There is no drilling. There is very little repetition, just three times ('horses learn in threes') and the rides aren't even that long. There are no side tracks, and no three months off in the winter or for a busy time at work. They can get more done in three years than most of us get done in ten years. Because they are focused, they don't make mistakes, and they have a program they stick to, and they ride well. They sit up straight, in the middle of the saddle, and have a sound basis so they can control what their hands, legs and seat are doing. Yes, it's that simple.

The DOWN side of open discourse, is that we are very free to convince ourselves otherwise, LOL.

Dressage Art
Aug. 8, 2009, 03:11 PM
He is allowed to be confused, to say he doesn't like something, to have doubts. This is a very important part of him maturing as a rider and trainer in dressage. It doesn't matter who it is or how much other people may admire him. A person has to go through a process.

Later, when he has more information, his opinion may change. Or not. But he's entitled to go through his own thought process and to learn and grow in the direction his principles take him in. Others are entitled to challenge him, of course.

Otherwise, we'd have a nation of mindlessly alcohol tail blocking, rollkuring, ear twisting dressage riders. An open atmosphere for learning, for disagreeing, for processing what one sees over time, for thoughts to develop and change, is really all we have in the US. We don't have zillians of well trained instructors, a consistent training philosophy, or a consistent way of developing riders, we don't have enough licensed, well trained trainers for all the people who wish to learn. All we really have is open discourse, with all its confusion, delays, side tracks and off the tracks people.

I like that very much. Who's quote is that?

Dressage Art
Aug. 8, 2009, 03:23 PM
Let's face it, if you are a top level professional in ANY DISCIPLINE you need to get the horses in the ring and winning quickly. One does not have the luxury of decades of training. You learn what "short cuts" you can use and what the judges are rewarding. Now, read carefully, I'm not saying all these horses are abused or even unhappy but their training is different than the AA or even serious one or two horse upper level rider.
ditto and SLC, I must off been very unlucky to stumble upon several. There are some in our area who tied their horses to a tree and beat them with the shovel!!! They clean up every show. There are others who ride just like Anky in RK and you can see an actuall RK in the warm up at some of our shows - they also win.

and if this is what it takes to win, I don't want to be a winner.

slc2
Aug. 8, 2009, 04:51 PM
"Who's quote is that"

mine.

Velvet
Aug. 8, 2009, 05:09 PM
Back to the OP question. Yes, classical training and riding DOES exist in the United States and it is winning at the shows, as well as being practiced in backyards when people don't have the money nor desire to compete. It's all around. Read a book on classical riding and then go out and watch some trainers at all different levels and you'll see a lot of them with that definition of "classical" training. You'll also see many who do not.

But to answer the question, "Yes, Virginia, there is classical training and trainers in the United States and they are not that difficult to find." (If YOU know what you're looking for...meaning that often the person saying they can't find it often is not educated themselves in the classical principles so they are unable to recognize it.)

Carol O
Aug. 8, 2009, 08:24 PM
It's right here in my backyard.

Dorothy: If I ever want to look for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard.

mbm
Aug. 8, 2009, 11:33 PM
stepping in late here...... i just want to agree with much of what DA is saying... i come from the same area and in fact have been at the same barns....

until you see it you may not believe it exists.... but it does...

ThreeFigs
Aug. 9, 2009, 12:12 AM
Well, it may exist, but I don't work with those people. Not as coaches, not as clients.

And I compete.

See? This thread, just like so many others before, has become popcorn-worthy. What a bunch of hooey.

Velvet
Aug. 9, 2009, 01:09 AM
Bea,

Do you have any real butter for that popcorn? Or are you using theater slime, er, fake butter? ;) I prefer Junior Mints to popcorn, when watching something entertaining. I've even heard some people mix them with popcorn, but that just seems WRONG to me. :D

mbm
Aug. 9, 2009, 01:28 AM
Well, it may exist, but I don't work with those people. Not as coaches, not as clients.

And I compete.

See? This thread, just like so many others before, has become popcorn-worthy. What a bunch of hooey.

edited. i guess my question is: why is it hooey to discuss what some of us have witnessed first hand? and what does your not working with "those" people have to do with our experiences?

slc2
Aug. 9, 2009, 08:05 AM
I think the point is you can dwell on the negative and complain how bad 'everyone else' is and how the world is going to h***, or you can work with decent trainers and do positive things with your horse.

The plain fact is this. There is no law against being a bad trainer. There is no way anyone can make it go away. There will always be bad trainers out there. The animal protective organizations are there to stop people who have dead and dying animals. They don't deal with bad training, and neither does the law of the land. Roughness, rudeness, incorrect methods, money grubbing, bs'ing trainers exist in every type of riding. Always has, always will.

The only thing you can do about bad training is not give the bad trainers your money or your horse. And ah...I think that everyone has been with a bad trainer at one point or another. It's just a part of being a rider, learning to find good people to work with.

Carol O
Aug. 9, 2009, 10:00 AM
When I had no decent trainer to work with I dusted off the videos and worked with Dr. Klimke. I made loads of progress in a classical way with my very green horse. I immersed myself in his teaching so much that I feel I still get advice from him channeled from above.

Grumbling, bitching and complaining is a choice. If you want to go to work on riding classically, that is another choice. There is always a way.

Tonja
Aug. 9, 2009, 11:28 AM
I’ve seen similar abuse as Dressage Art and mbm, but at different barns.

What amazes/saddens me is
1. how so many abusive (literally yank, crank, whack & jab) riders can be so consistently successful in dressage competition and
2. how many people flock to and admire these abusive winning riders and
3. how little the sport does to weed these people out.

To many people, dressage has become synonymous with abusive riding and I have to explain to them that that is not the kind of dressage I teach and train.

mbm
Aug. 9, 2009, 11:31 AM
of course we make choices!

but i fail to see how discussing various life experiences is "bitching" .... are we not to talk about the real life things we have gone thru and put the cautionary tales out there for others to listen to or not?

plus, i think there is a process one goes thru when one realizes that what they are being taught is not correct training. it i hard to admit that and to admit that they how you might be riding is incorrect and harsh. it is a process to work thru that and choose to go a different way. and part of that process (like grief etc) is talking about it.

honestly - if you don't like the conversation don't participate. but bitching about what others are talking about is well.... not constructive and is in fact negative. in other words - take your own advice and dont participate in making a thread go south :)

ThreeFigs
Aug. 9, 2009, 11:38 AM
Velvet, ALWAYS real butter on my popcorn!

Mixing Junior Mints with popcorn is abusive, and not classical.

ThreeFigs
Aug. 9, 2009, 11:47 AM
Hey, MBM, I understand where you're coming from, but it's still bitching. Ride classically, show if you want. Don't whine if the "un-classical" riders beat you in competition. Be content in the knowledge that you are doing right by your horse, that it will likely last longer and be happier than those other horses.

Control what you can control, within your sphere of influence. The rest, well, let it go. Some will hear you, others will not. Some won't care, others have no idea their methods are harsh. Maybe they will learn, maybe not.

These "Classical vs. Competitive" threads go round and round, people get huffy, nothing gets resolved. Much like the never-ending arguments between the BUA's and farriers in the Horse Care thread.

Popcorn worthy entertainment and little else.

Dressage Art
Aug. 9, 2009, 11:30 PM
but i fail to see how discussing various life experiences is "bitching" .... are we not to talk about the real life things we have gone thru and put the cautionary tales out there for others to listen to or not?it's just the most common response from crank and spank riders: you are "bitching" or you are "jealous". Again, some fail to notice that there is a HORSE in it and it's about the HORSE, not about humans. But for some it's all about Me, Me, Me, bitching about ME, jealous about ME!!! and it's not surprising, since some look at their horses as equipment and wouldn't even think that a stranger would be simply sad to watch what their HORSES have to go thru... it's beyond them, thus "bitching" and "jealous" comebacks.

Again, back to the different kind of mind set and values.

ThreeFigs
Aug. 10, 2009, 12:12 AM
:sleepy:

Velvet
Aug. 10, 2009, 12:47 AM
Wake up, bea. Time to talk more about dressing up our popcorn! Or maybe one of the thread killers will show up and stop the madness. :D Now who was it that used to have the signature, "Thread killer extraordinaire!" I can't seem to remember who that was. Anyone else remember? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? (Darn, I miss suzy. Not a thread killer, but highly entertaining. As was Maria.)

ThreeFigs
Aug. 10, 2009, 12:59 AM
Zzzz. Snork. Huh? Oh, sorry. Nodded off there. Wine, anyone? I drank all the Margaritas.

A little Parmesan cheese sprinkled over hot popcorn is good, too...

mbm
Aug. 10, 2009, 01:08 AM
Control what you can control, within your sphere of influence. The rest, well, let it go.

hey Beasmom - you might take your own advice :winkgrin::lol::lol:

MEP
Aug. 10, 2009, 05:33 AM
I'm afraid these little discussion go on so long the popcorn gets stale ....

lewin
Aug. 10, 2009, 05:54 AM
There really shouldn't be a division between classical and competitive. Good riding is just good riding whether or not you use draw reins or hold your whip upside down. I am riding somewhat classically right now, but only because our current issues are not ones that a gadget would fix otherwise I would not hesitate. I do compete but am not really competitive and while I do have weightlifters biceps and forearms it is because I actually lift weights. (And could bench-press the average dressage rider.) And I do not think I am that different from most of the other AA's I meet who want to learn, compete, and do right by their horses.

I do see a lot of bad riding covered up by the "classical" name. Trainers who, if they did compete, would not be able to string together an entire test. Competitions at least give a standard for what constitutes what level.

Rusty Stirrup
Aug. 10, 2009, 08:27 AM
Maybe if we called it "fast track dressage" and "old time dressage" instead of "competitive and classical"? There's no reason classical (a term which I like and use) can't show and win. In fact it should if it's truly correct.

Enstride
Aug. 10, 2009, 09:47 AM
Personal experience will determine what a rider believes will work in regards to getting the most from their rides. Most, if not all riders, get on a horse with good intentions to ride well. They pursue instruction to get better and try to get the most out of each ride. This is why we have such heated debates over how to train. With all good intentions, they can still hurt a horse.
My own personal experiences have helped make me a better rider and trainer. So I will give an over view to my experience with *classical* dressage training.
I have ridden since I was a kid and showed. I've worked with top trainers on the A hunter/jumper circuit and have seen/ridden many different styles of riding. I have driven pairs and singles with good instruction. I thought I rode really well and was winning ribbons. Until I met a lady that rode dressage. She patiently rebuilt me on the lunge line. I would have hour lunge lessons on her horse or mine. I remember loving the feeling of letting go and really feeling the horses movement. Most of the work was done at the walk. I learned how to separate my many parts. I would dread going some days...It was hard work to do nothing!!! But everytime I dreaded going..I would leave feeling soooo good and refreshed. Then I got the opportunity to ride with her instructor in the UK. I went for nearly two years. I rode everyday under his careful eye and also got to watch many horses come for training and lessons. My*classical* instructor in the UK was brilliant as a horseman. Every day he strove to be a better horseman. Always learning and working with the biomechanics of the rider and horse. We would ride in the mornings and then watch for hours on a hard wooden bench. We weren't allowed to cross our legs as that put uneven pull against our pelvis. If I went on a trip for a day I was reminded to sit up while travelling before I left and would have to wear the sausages for a few rides after returning to riding. I had Alexander lessons often. We would watch videos,read books, and magazines. All were critiqued as to the content and what we saw. All critiques were backed with hard facts, not personal generalizations. Lines were drawn on the pictures to show relations to balance and form. Can I to this day be as precise as they were? No, but I have a much better eye because of it.
When my trainer got on a horse it was to help balance it under a rider and then teach it to use itself as if the rider wasn't there. His work was so beautiful and at times seemed so tedious. He has a way of connecting into the horses nervous system via his seat and it shows from the ground but also when you sit on a horse he has ridden. The horses always felt higher and wider through/over their backs and their legs moved liked they had just been greased. The lightness off the ground was amazing. Did he beat them or whip them to get this... NOPE!!! Just sat there riding really well. No magic voodoo..he just used his seat effectively and his timing was excellent. Do I think he is the only one that knows this..No. But they are far and few between.

For me, a big thing was watching semi-lame horses become sounder and stronger as a result of good riding. One old horse at the farm was to be put to sleep by his vet owner. My trainer took the horse in because he believed he could rehab him and use him in his lesson program. It was nearly 10 years after this that I met Harry. Harry was used to teach many others the fine principles of correct riding. He gracefully did all lateral work, flying changes(that were so smooth/straight you'd never knew he was doing tempi changes) and piaffe. He was ridden correctly and he stayed sound until his death. Time and again horses would come with issues and good riding made them stronger and they all enjoyed the work.
To me any riding can be good riding. Teaching a horse to bring his weight back onto his haunches to lighten the front end, use his back with thoroughness, into an even contact is priceless.



SLC2:
Charles Harris was a good friend and I think he is one to take note of when talking about classical instructors. Thanks for referencing his works. He was so thorough with his teachings and he was always ready to back up whatever he stated to be true with the hard facts. Making a debate with him pointless!!! He was brilliant and is sorely missed.

Dressage Art
Aug. 10, 2009, 02:34 PM
Maybe if we called it "fast track dressage" and "old time dressage" instead of "competitive and classical"? There's no reason classical (a term which I like and use) can't show and win. In fact it should if it's truly correct.
Definitely agree that "competitive" and "classical" dressage needs new names. Too much baggage is attached to those already.

I'm not sure about winning... trainers who choose to work with variety of breeds and various talents of horses will never be able to produce as much "winning" as trainers who pre-select only the best naturally bred horses with the best natural talents. If a trainer has 20 supper talented horses in her stable who all can potentially score 70%, she/he eventually will collect more ribbons than a trainer who has 20 various breeds/talent horses in her stable, with some horses that will never score 70% b/c of their natural breed or talent limitation. The difference is the choice of horses and the choice on what horses that trainer will spend time.

There are trainers who take a fancy, 8 gaits horse and make it in to a 7 gaits horse. Then there are those who take an average 6 gaits horse and make it in to a 7 gaits horse ;) Some train-up, others train-down their horses ;) While the results are quite similar the difference between those two for me is huge!

I can't repeat it often enough that thanks God that some true dressage Masters are willing to spend their time and knowledge on the rest of us who have average horses... not only on the $$$$$ top of the cream horses.

Dressage Art
Aug. 10, 2009, 02:49 PM
I swear I saw some posts here that disappeared now... so no point of writing a response then...

Nojacketrequired
Aug. 10, 2009, 07:20 PM
We weren't allowed to cross our legs as that put uneven pull against our pelvis. If I went on a trip for a day I was reminded to sit up while travelling before I left and would have to wear the sausages for a few rides after returning to riding.

"Wear the sausages"? Please explain as I hesitate to let my imagination loose with that one.

NJR

Enstride
Aug. 10, 2009, 08:30 PM
Sausages...to me ...an evil ;-) training device to help a rider stretch and have a lovely long leg...They are effective...
What are they? Well its kind of hard to describe...They are put under your thigh to keep it off the horse while riding. Then taken off at the end of the ride. The feeling is wonderful when the leg is back on the saddle. It would be very hard to describe what they actually are but envision sausages under your leg(big/fat ones) I think its how they jokingly named them.
I wondered if any one would ask.....:-)

Carol O
Aug. 10, 2009, 08:39 PM
I want sausages! Where can I get them? No references to local butcher shops please....

Enstride
Aug. 10, 2009, 08:48 PM
I will sell you a pair....They aren't high tech but work wonders...I will however have to come to you to show you how they work :-)

Disclaimer....I will not be responsible for any pain or swear words used while using them. I will take full responsibility for the ahhh moment after taking them off ;-)

Enstride

buck22
Aug. 10, 2009, 09:25 PM
oh my, I'm awfully intrigued by sausages :) might you have a photo of them in use? do they have a proper name?

Liz
Aug. 10, 2009, 10:26 PM
I bet you could find them in California.

ThreeFigs
Aug. 10, 2009, 11:04 PM
Yes, please more about these miraculous devices! I have some students who could use a session with them. Heh heh!

Me, too, probably.

Are they classical and not abusive (to horses)?

slc2
Aug. 10, 2009, 11:13 PM
My trainer taught me to say it, 'Snausages'.

It's basically like doing thigh stretchers. Some people think that thigh stretchers are better, because you do them briefly and repeat ad nauseum. Less chance of pulling a muscle, and quicker improvement.

Enstride
Aug. 11, 2009, 07:26 AM
Well I have never seen them used outside of the yard I was at in the UK. Not to say they haven't been used elsewhere. The only name I know is sausages and I know how to make them.

Pictures? I don't think I have any. You'd think I would after all the time I spent using them :-)

This is not an exercise per say. It is a device used while riding. The only effort required of the rider is to use core strength and balance to ride the horse in all gaits and movements..No problem, right?!?!? ;-)

Are they harmful to the horse? No because they require the rider to not grip with the thigh and groin while riding. The horses usually move freer. But I will say they are awkward to use and not everyone is ready for them at too long of duration. They do cause stretching and size is important. Too large could hurt someone and too long at first could also cause some pain to the rider.

Sorry to have sidetracked this thread with Sausages...

slc2
Aug. 11, 2009, 07:31 AM
Snausages.

egontoast
Aug. 11, 2009, 08:22 AM
bacon is less painful. Work up with baby steps to avoid muscle strain.

Bacon, then back bacon, then slices of ham, sausages, cottage rolls, butterball turkeys...and so on.

ThreeFigs
Aug. 11, 2009, 11:44 AM
Enstride, I was kidding about whether or not sausages were abusive to horses. Sounds like they are more "abusive" to the riders!

I believe I understand how they work, and the benefits and possible dangers if the device is not fitted properly or over-used.

egontoast
Aug. 11, 2009, 11:47 AM
Would you say then that sausages are like razor blades in a monkey's hands?

ThreeFigs
Aug. 11, 2009, 11:54 AM
Some of my students might think so If I make them ride with 'em.

Bwahahahahahahaha!

twofatponies
Aug. 11, 2009, 11:59 AM
Call me utterly ignorant, but what the heck are sausages?????

Then retitle this thread "Sausages - do they even exist in the US?"

Liz
Aug. 11, 2009, 01:23 PM
Define "sausage". It means different things to different people.

ThreeFigs
Aug. 11, 2009, 01:43 PM
Liz, starting with post #94, Enstride first mentions "Sausages".

I'm imagining a padded device that is either attached to the rider's inner thigh or to the saddle under the rider's thigh, to stretch the leg a bit further away from the horse's sides than normal. Once removed, the rider probably feels much closer and deeper to the horse and into the saddle, due to having been stretched at the hip joints.

I hope Enstride comes back to tell me how close I am.

stryder
Aug. 11, 2009, 01:46 PM
Liz, starting with post #94, Enstride first mentions "Sausages".

I'm imagining a padded device that is either attached to the rider's inner thigh or to the saddle under the rider's thigh, to stretch the leg a bit further away from the horse's sides than normal. Once removed, the rider probably feels much closer and deeper to the horse and into the saddle, due to having been stretched at the hip joints.

I hope Enstride comes back to tell me how close I am.

That's what I imagined, too.

Obviously Oblivious
Aug. 11, 2009, 04:25 PM
Very intriguing article, although after reading some of the comments, it seems a little appalling to me that with only having seen parts of Dr Gerd Heuschmann's If Horses Could Speak and without reading Tug of War, he calls his work an "exploitive piece of trash." Really now? Is he a doctor and can he verify this without even having really investigated the work?

I don't think Mr. Dover was calling the entirety of the Dr. H's work "trash" but only the video that he saw. He explained quite clearly the problems he had with the video, and I agree with him on that count.

Enstride
Aug. 12, 2009, 07:21 AM
Beasmom
You are very close in your description of Sausages. They slip under the riders legs and aren't really connected to anything but the other sausage.
I didn't think you were serious about harming the horse..but you never know who else may have thought you were, and I thought I'd address that. :-)

Rusty Stirrup
Aug. 12, 2009, 07:56 AM
I don't think Mr. Dover was calling the entirety of the Dr. H's work "trash" but only the video that he saw. He explained quite clearly the problems he had with the video, and I agree with him on that count.

Not to get off the original post too much, I just have to say, pretty expensive trash. The good Dr. is doing a clinic in my area this fall and it's $250.00 a ride, per day. $40 just to audit. Of course you are getting advice from not only a Vet but a Bereiter. I wish I could afford to go.

OlympicDreams
Aug. 13, 2009, 01:20 PM
I just wanted to share with everyone this wonderful article my coach, Hans Hollenbach, wrote in an issue of Horses for Life. I found it very helpful and maybe you will as well. Anyways, Enjoy! :)


http://horsesforlife.com/WhatIsClassicalAnyway